Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Beef up your password security
Herewith are a few reminders about passwords, and some interesting computer security factoids.
First, there are some "passwords" that never should be. Like your name, or the name of your dog or cat, or your significant other. All it takes is a quick view of some publicly available information that you posted on a social web site for somebody to give a try with. While it's true social media sites do protect your private information, hackers are constantly working to come up with ways to work around security.
For a good, solid password, don't use real words – with high speed computing, a hacker's toolbox contains software that will run down through every word in the language in an attempt at a break-in. The longer the word, the more the combinations, the harder to hack. A four-character password, using all possible letters and special characters has some 14 million possible combinations. Bump the number up to an eight-character password and the combinations come to a mind-boggling 21 trillion!
While it's a whole lot easier to remember one password, don't succumb to the easy way out and use that password on every account. If one account is hacked, the password revealed, then everything is open to a security breach. Interestingly, those who have "data breaches," are ten-times more likely to be victims of identity theft. Use different passwords for different accounts, just as you'd have a different key for different locks.
If you've got a smart-phone, don't think you're safe. Compared to the "Average American," data phone users are 33% more likely to be victims of identity theft.
And of course, beware of those "phishing" e-mail schemes. If a company known to you sends an e-mail that says you need to change your password, maybe you do. Just don't click the link in e-mail to change it, go to the company site through your web browser, entering the company's URL yourself – then change it if need be.
Take a few simple steps to protect your security. You'll spend a lot less time, frustration, and possibly money then if you get hacked.