Four Ways to Keep Your Passwords Secure

The Technology Cafe dubbed 2012 “The Year of Password Theft.”

+In 2012, password theft increased a whopping 300%.

+Cybercrime cost users $20.7 billion in the United States alone.

+Yahoo and LinkedIn experienced severe security breaches, affecting millions of registered users.

Ouch. What’s to be done?

The List

Make sure your password is not on this list, compiled by self-proclaimed password expert Mark Burnett. The top fifeteen offenders (and no, they’re not case-sensitive) are…

1. password

2. 123456

3. 12345678

4. 1234

5. qwerty

6. dragon

7. (to keep this site G-rated, we’ll leave #7 blank)

8. baseball

9. football

10. letmein

11. monkey

12. (another G-rated deletion)

13. abc123

14. mustang

15. michael

If you’re on this list, or the other 10,000 most common passwords found here, you’re ripe for a new password.

Basic Password Tips

1. Make Secure Passwords

A secure password is a password which contains a variety of letters, numbers, and sometimes symbols and is longer than eight characters. Why don’t most people use secure passwords? They’re difficult to remember. Exactly.

Good: gW92Rtp!pTw9

Not-so-good: see the list above

2. Change Your Passwords Frequently

If you’ve been using the same passwords for years, it’s time for a change. To help you out, check out Should I Change My Password. They “comb the depths of the internet to find email and password data sets that have been hacked, leaked or compromised.”

You can also sign up for their e-alerts list to be notified of any breaches in security.

3. Use a Password Manager

While there are many password managers available, one that has been around for awhile is eWallet.

Rick Broida of CNET says that “the wrong thing to do is stick all this data in a note or memo, where it’s difficult to organize and easy for an phone thief to find. The right thing: install a password manager, one that syncs with your PC so you can access your passwords just as easily there as you can on the go.”

Broida advises that eWallet is “a bit pricey at $9.99 (not including $19.99 for the Windows desktop companion), but the latest version includes built-in iCloud support, meaning it can automatically back up your password database and share it with any other iDevices you own.”

Even if eWallet isn’t your choice, using a password manager is a safer choice that the sticky note or  the “e-mail-to-yourself-of-all-your-passwords” method.

4. Stop the Same-Password-Madness

Perhaps this last tip goes without saying, but if you’re using the same password for all of your social media sites, shopping sites and other applications that require login information, you’re at risk.

Each password should be unique. For that reason, it might be wise to invest in a password manager as mentioned above.

 Question: What are your tips for keeping your accounts safe?

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