Monthly Archives: February 2013

P@$$w0rd$ – Make ’em STRONG

Security starts with your password

Keeping your data secure can be a big job these days. The first thing (and one of the easiest) to do is to use passwords, change them regularly, and make them strong.

Your PC and, especially, your laptop should have a logon password. When you walk away from your PC, you should always ‘lock’ your PC. Click the ‘Windows key + L’ and your laptop will be automatically locked. You can also do the familiar ‘Alt/Ctrl/Del’ and then choose the ‘Lock this computer’. Doing this will require that your password be entered to gain access to your PC or laptop and your data.

Don’t make it easy on the bad guys

A recent article in Time Magazine referenced the 25 worst passwords of 2012. The vast majority of the passwords on this list were passwords that anybody would guess. A successive string of numbers (123456 or 987654) or a string of letters (abcdefg or qwerty.)

Other bad passwords include your name or your email address or your phone number. That information can be easily gathered from your business card or a listing on your website. Your birthday, pet names or home address may be harder to guess but, are still less than optimal.

Make your password STRONG

A good password is one that is difficult to guess. There are ways to make your password hard for even the best ‘hacking’ tools to figure out. Making your password STRONG (hard to guess) is a matter of being just a little creative.

      • Use CAPS – Most password algorithms recognize the difference between a capital letter and a lower case letter. A capital letter or a number thrown into a password is a good way to mix it up a bit. Even using a capital letter with your name (not the first letter!) adds a small degree of difficulty for the hacker – miKe is different than mIke and Mike!
      • Add a number – just putting a number in the password makes it harder to guess. Even if you use your name, a 6 at the beginning, end or in the middle will make it a bit more difficult.
      • Consider a symbol – Adding a symbol (Ex. – @#$!%^&*) can make it really hard on the human hacker and will slow down the hacking program. Watch out for substituting symbols that resemble the letters like the one I used in the title – P@$$w0rd. Hackers have caught on to that little trick…
      • Add one more character – with 26 letters, 10 numbers and 15 or so symbols, adding one more character to your password makes it exponentially harder to break.
      • Try a ‘pass phrase’ – using a phrase versus a word is one of the best ways to create a strong password that is easy to remember. ‘Ilivenear1234AnywhereDr’ has enough letters and characters in it to keep a hacker (human or machine) busy for a long time.

The bottom line is – security is up to you. Use passwords. Make ’em strong. Change them regularly.