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Securing Your Password: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

When it comes to passwords, most people don’t realize that hackers have many different methods they use to crack your codes. According to McAfee.com, there are 5 different ways that hackers can acquire your information including:

  • Dictionary attacks
  • Cracking security questions
  • Simple passwords
  • Reuse of password across multiple sites
  • Social engineering

This blog post reflects on simple passwords, the worst passwords of 2016, and tips and tricks to make your passwords more secure.

An important step to make your password more secure involves avoiding specific, personal information. Do not include the following:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Birth Date
  • Child’s Name
  • Pet’s Name
  • Favorite Color/Song

According to Mcafee.com, “When 32 million passwords were exposed in a breach last year, almost 1% of victims were using ‘123456’.  The next most popular was ‘12345’.”  Earlier this year SplashData announced their “Worst Passwords of 2016”, this list included ‘123456’ and ‘12345’.

According to SplashData‘s recent study,  “over 10% of people use at least one of the 25 worst passwords on this year’s list, nearly 4% of people using the worst password, 123456.”

Consider your password a digital identification of you.  Just as you protect and prevent your driver’s license from being stolen and used without your knowledge, you must use the same caution for your passwords. As everything is done digitally now (from banking to dating), it is increasingly necessary to take the time to craft a password that only you will remember. Below is a list of the top 15 tips to create enhanced password security, according to McAfee:

  1. Make sure you use different passwords for each of your accounts
  2. Be sure no one watched when you enter your password
  3. Always log off if you leave your device and anyone is around
  4. Use comprehensive security software and keep it up to date to avoid keyloggers and other malware
  5. Avoid entering passwords on computers you don’t control
  6. Avoid entering passwords when using unsecured Wi-Fi connections
  7. Don’t tell anyone your password
  8. Depending on the sensitivity of the information being protected, you should change your password periodically, and avoid reusing a password for at least one year
  9. Do use at least eight characters of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols in your password
  10. Strong passwords are easy to remember but hard to guess; Iam:)2b29! – this has 10 characters and says “I am happy to be 29!”
  11. Use the keyboard as a palette to create shapes; %tgbHU8* – this creates a V on the keyboard
  12. Have fun with known short codes or sentences or phrases
  13. It’s okay to write down your password, just keep them away from your computer and mixed in with other numbers and letters so it’s not apparent that it’s a password
  14. You can also write a “tip sheet” which will give you a clue to remember your password
  15. Check your password strength

In this day and age where technology is widely used, we have to inform ourselves, our peers, and our customers to create and maintain passwords that protect our identity.  Take the time to create your own personalized passwords and let your customers know the importance of a strong password.  In the end, if a customer’s account is hacked and used inappropriately, you could be responsible for the outcome.

Siciliano, Robert. (2011, June 29) 15 Tips to Better Password Security. McAfee. Retrieved from https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/15-tips-to-better-password-security/

Morgan. Announcing our Worst Passwords of 2016. TeamsID. Retrieved from https://www.teamsid.com/worst-passwords-2016/?nabe=4561770576609280:1,5716650381017088:2,5767892520140800:2

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