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Passwords - Best Practices

Passwords

Computers have made information easier to access, however, at the same time they have also made our personal Information more vulnerable to attacks. Our identities are floating around in cyber space for anyone to see. In order to safeguard ourselves, we must live in a password-protected world - Think of it this way: we wouldn’t leave our homes unlocked and allow strangers to come in, so why would we do that with our computers ? 

There are different login accounts for email, chats, forums, bank accounts, On-line subscriptions to name a few.The trouble is creating and remembering unique passwords for all these sites. Often, we use simple things like our children’s’ names or our birthdays. Or we use the same password for all our logins. Hackers rely on people to do this. Here are a few tips to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:

Create Strong Passwords - A strong password consists of a series of case-sensitive letters, numbers and symbols that are at least eight characters long (Passwords longer than fourteen characters are ideal).

If you want to check how strong your password is then you can use the Microsoft Password checking tool which can be accessed by clicking here - Password Check Tool

Don't Use Weak Passwords - Don't use anything that can be found in a dictionary. Hackers use a dictionary attack method where a hacker will literally go through an entire dictionary, (English or otherwise), trying to guess a password. Using this method, it typically takes less than a day to crack.

Another common hacking method is called a brute force attack. Brute force is more time consuming than a dictionary attack, but it’s not impossible. This method basically tries all the possible combinations of keys on a keyboard. Therefore, the longer the password, the more difficult it is to crack.

Weak passwords also include addresses, family names, pet names, school names, Social Security numbers, or obvious sequences of numbers or letters like 123456, ABCDEF or any similar combination. Also, you should never, ever leave a field blank. All of these are definite ways to allow strangers to discover your personal information.

Don't Forget your Passwords - One of the most common mistakes in creating a strong password is forgetting it. If you do, not only will hackers be unable to access your personal information, but neither will you.

The goal of creating passwords that combine letters, numbers and symbols is to make them seem as random as possible. Find something that has meaning only to you. One suggestion is to use the first letter of phrases, poetry or made-up vanity license plates. For example, “Spoiled Rotten” could be changed to “5Poi1dRaw10.”

After creating your password, use it immediately and frequently during the course of the day. This will help with memorization.

Don’t use your new password for everything. Think of unique ones for each of your accounts. This may seem like a hassle but it ensures that if one account is compromised, at least the others are safe.

Change Your Passwords Regularly - This too may seem like a hassle, but there are plenty of people in the world who would love to have access to your bank accounts and credit card information. Changing your passwords every 30 to 90 days is definitely a good practice.

 

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