There has been a lot of press recently about the security of various well known websites being hacked and losing passwords and account details. Now you may wonder what you can do about this and also should you be doing anything about it. The answer to both questions is YES! Without going into levels of technical details that many of you do not wish to know, you can all help yourselves, and others by having complex passwords. Imagine if each house in a town dropped their front door key and a would be burglar collected all of these keys, 1 key alone would take him many months to find the correct house to use it on, but if he had hundreds he could stand at each door and try all the keys he had found and it would greatly increase his chances of success.
What is the problem?
Imagine passwords then….. and lets look at a typical password. I see many people who have passwords like son/daughters name and a year often a date of birth so it may be sally1983 for example. One issue with this is that it is only 9 characters and they are all lowercase letters and some numbers, this is really easy to guess for a hacker, not because the hacker knows you have a daughter called sally and she was born in 1983 but because these are patterns which have been used widely by many people so to run a list of names and dates against a database of passwords is really easy. Also there were probably lots of girls called Sally born in 1983 in the world so it is something which has probably been used before, and hacking tools use lists of previously captured passwords so once a password is discovered it is added to the list for use on the next hacking attempt.
What can we do about it?
What we all need to do is have a password strategy so we can build a password which is difficult to guess, unlikely to be used elsewhere and uses a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters, also the longer the better and believe me the number of characters in the password really does make a difference to the ability to crack a password!!! We can maybe have a phrase we like to help us remember so for example “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” could be your favourite phrase and we can convert this into a password like th3Qu!ckbR0wnf0Xjumps()verThel4zYD0g as an example. If you have multiple passwords for different sites (who doesn’t now!) you could add something like fbook, twit, email to the start of each one to remember which password matches which site and use the same for the rest. You could alternatively use a random password generator which can supply strong passwords but these can difficult to remember and we really need to avoid writing them down! http://passwordsgenerator.net/ is a good example.
Yes it is a lot more typing, but typing in a longer password is much less hassle than having your bank account, social media or email account compromised. Oh and please don’t use the quick brown fox now that I have written that down !!
Hope it helps