If you’re like most people your passwords are either (a) too basic, (b) too similar across too many sites, or (c) both. Poor website security is a fact of life on the Internet these days it seems. But there are a few things you can do with your passwords that can reduce the likelihood that your password gets hacked and sold to some criminal reprobates in Eastern Lower Slobovia, or wherever it is that all these password hackers seem to thrive and conduct their nefarious commerce.
There’s been no end to the list of sites hacked just in the past year or so – it seems every week there’s a new story about the thousands of passwords or customer data some site lost. While banks and health care tend to be among the best performers when it comes to guarding your security, plenty of others are just not very secure.
So following are a few observations and tips noted in the article, which can be found here.
The most popular password? 123456 Here’s little tip: don’t use that one. Nearly 300,000 people did in a breach of 32 million passwords at a gaming website in 2009.
- Combining letters, numbers and special characters, and mixing upper and lower cases and punctuations symbols is a big step in the right (i.e., secure) direction.
- Use a sentence. If you remember a sentence, then it’s easy to remember the first letters of each word in the sentence. CR gives the example used by students to memorize the order of the planets: My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles. This could be made more cryptic by something like: m*Emjsu9p, where Venus (the morning or evening star) is represented by * and nine is a numeral. Don’t use this one, but you get the idea.
- Use a pass phrase, several words mixed with numbers and punctuations symbols. Their example: stitch9clock^handsapplausE. The longer the phrase, the more secure.
- Avoid dictionary words. Hackers first try the well-known dictionary of common passwords, which can be done automatically. You want to avoid auto-hacking, by forcing them to use a brute force, more labor-intensive (and less likely to be successful) approach. This is referred to as the ‘haystack’ approach – as in finding it is like finding a needle in a haystack.
- Similarly, avoid passwords that contain personal info that can be deduced by knowing a little bit about you.
- Go for longer passwords whenever possible. This makes the ‘haystack’ bigger. Padding it with numerous symbols can make it longer, and not likely to be found in any dictionary. Example: c-@T–9—
Make your password one less thing to worry about this year. It just might bring you a slightly Happier New Year!