Internet Security News & Views

Protecting your online security – Your guide to safe passwords

Protection from Password Hackers—Easy if You Know How!

Hacking is never going away– so remember that when you setup your accounts and passwords, whether it’s for an email account or an online video game. Hacking and identity theft are becoming more common because it easy for hackers, and can be very profitable for a little bit of time and effort put into hacking your passwords. Did you realize that there are readily available programs, that do most of the hacking work– and they can find them online for free?.

Most Common Passwords

Many people use passwords that are easy to remember: unfortunately, these are usually some of the easiest passwords to figure out. Things like your name, names of family members, your address, and your birthdate are all things that are easy for you to remember. These things also make your password an easy crack for a hacker. The ten most common passwords for 2012 are in order: password, 123456, 12345678, abc123, QWERTY, monkey, letmein, dragon, 11111, and baseball. If you are using one of these for any of your accounts, change it now!

How to Protect Yourself

There are many protective measures you can take to help keep your passwords safe, and keep yourself from being the victim of a hacker.

Creating a complex password is still the most effective form of prevention; by using a combination of letters (a mix of lower and capital or even one capital can make a big difference), numbers and punctuation marks make your password a lot more complex and harder to hack. By substituting a number in place of a letter, you can also make your password a bit more diverse and difficult for hackers to break. You also should use different passwords for all accounts you may have; if someone successfully hacks one account they could potentially have your password for all of your accounts.

If you tend to forget passwords, do not use the auto- save password option that some sites offer, instead write them down on a piece of paper and put them in a safe place when they aren’t needed.

Another way to remember all your passwords for different accounts, without paper and pencil, is to use a ‘password vault’ program like RoboForm. It saves all of your passwords for you and logs you in automatically; you only need to remember the master password. This could make things much easier once all of your passwords are set up.

Good Examples

An example of a bad or common password would be catinthehat. To make it harder on a hacker or their software you could change one of the a’s to a @ symbol. By just changing one of the a’s you’ll make it harder to decipher than if you change both and show a pattern; your new password would now read catintheh@t. You can further improve your password by changing one of the letters to a capital letter, for example instead of catintheh@t you can capitalize the N making your new password catiNtheh@t. Keep in mind that capitalizing the first letter in your password is the most common, so it is the least effective way of building a good password.

Acronyms

If you find it easier to remember a whole sentence than random words then you could make acronyms, such as:

Row Row Row your Boat Gently down the Stream

To make a password such as: RRRyBGdtS

One, two, buckle my shoe, Three, four, shut the door

To make a password such as: 12bms34std

Bear in mind that on most systems, the space key itself is a perfectly acceptable character, so your password could actually be 12bms 34std.

By creating distinct “ pass-phrases,” you can more easily remember long, unique strings of characters, and if you use a different song, or  line of a song, verse or nursery rhyme for each account, you can achieve  unique passwords for each account you have online.

 

Protecting Yourself for the Future

Keeping yourself up to date on website and online company practices can significantly help keep you protected. For example, legitimate websites and companies will never ask for your password; in fact, most of them will not be able to access it either.Likewise, most will address legitimate emails to you with your full name; I note this because there are some phishing scheme emails going around that are very good copies of PayPal emails. However, they do not address the recipient by name– a key tipoff that they are bogus.

Be sure to use anti-virus protection software on your computer as it will keep hackers at bay, as well as protecting you from serious software issues with your computer. Make sure to clear your browser history regularly or set up your system to do so automatically. Hackers may gain access to your browser cache and can use it for any purpose.

Overall, if you are using one of those top 10 passwords, your address. or dog’s name, cute as that may be, you should expect to get hacked. On the other hand, follow the tips in this article and you should be relatively hacker-safe!

 And finally, dont use the same password everywhere! It is not a good idea to use the same password on Ebay, Facebook, your online banking etc. Use different ones. Oh, and dont tell anyone your passwords. Just as you dont want to give everybody access to your apartment by giving them a key, you dont want to give people access to your PayPal accounts or your Facebook.

– Omniquad Security Team

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4 Responses »

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