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Strong Passwords
Secure your cyber world

A strong password is your deadbolt or alarm system for your computer or tablet, whether at home or work. It can keep hackers at bay and perhaps thwart an unwanted cyber intrusion.

But many of us have multiple passwords, and, for that matter, multiple login names, that can tax our short-term memories. To make it easier on ourselves, we tend to use the same password and login name. This may leave us susceptible to password attacks, especially among thieves who adopt increasingly smarter password-cracking software and other devices to gain access. The combination of poor passwords and automated attacks means that in just 110 attempts, a hacker will typically gain access to one new account every second or a mere 17 minutes to break into 1,000 accounts according to Imperva, a data security company.

Building a better password
Is it time to bolster your security? These tips may help.

  • Use at least 10 characters, with 12 being ideal.
  • Mix in, with your characters, upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters such as *&$!^. Note: If there is only one letter or special character, it should not be either the first or last character in the password.
  • Do not use a name or slang word or any part of your name (first and last) or your email address.
  • Take a sentence or saying and use it as a password, suggests Bruce Schneir, a cryptographer, computer security specialist, and author. An example: “This little piggy went to market” can become “tlpWENT2m.”

Password security in the workplace
Having a strong personal password is important; a strong one for work is essential. Hackers can strike gold a million times over by breaking into company computers that contain customer and employee personal information.

Here are some safe habits to follow in your workplace.

  • Follow your company’s password policy. Changing your password every 90 days, as is the custom of some places, can be challenging, but it’s there to protect you and the information in the company’s system.
  • Once you have created your password, do not store it in an apparent place in your office, such as under your keyboard or your phone.
  • Avoid using personal information as your password. Some people choose their spouse or children’s names as their password, which can be readily found by thieves via your social media site.
  • If possible, use different passwords for different sites. Think of a password like a key and hackers then have the key to get what they want.

Bad passwords
Now that you’ve learned how to build a better, more secure password, you will be able to understand why the following are considered the worst.

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. 1235678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123

*For a more detailed list, take a look at Splashdata.com’s Top 25.