With the vicious 50-day siege on cyber space by Lulz sec finally being over, we begin the process of recovery. There are lessons to be learned from everything. The latest LulzSec attacks revealed that most victims used email passwords that were easy to decipher. A good password doesn’t have to be impossible to remember. Here are tips for protecting your accounts.
If there’s one lesson to be learned from the rash of hack attacks recently, it’s the value of a strong password. Just look at what the hacker group LulzSec dug up. After hacking into the websites of the CIA, PBS and Sony, it posted on the Internet the email addresses and passwords of 62,000 compromised accounts.
A quick scan of the list showed that most passwords were easy to remember — and easy to crack. Sample: “wildwoman,” “coffeecup,” “peterp,” and “kindle.”
Of course, the ideal password would be long, unintelligible and nearly impossible to predict. Like this: !co4D4)f%d. But good passwords are hard to remember, which is why so many people end up with easy ones or reuse the same password for multiple accounts.
Passwords are the keys to our life in the digital world. From our email accounts to our checking accounts, everything relies on these passwords. Various security providers have concocted numerous mechanisms and strong iron gates to protect our walls and we cannot afford to the let the only key to that lock be brittle. Here are some tips to pick a good password.
- Never choose simple words or personal information as your password.
- Try to use mnemonics. For example, pick a personal sentence, say, “I was a quarter-back in high school”. Now take the first letter of the sentence to form a password, like so, “Iwaqbihs”. This deters dictionary-attacks.
- You may also want to add numbers and special characters to your password to make them much stronger. Lets stick with the same sentence add your year of graduation, 1988 for example. Your password could now be, Iwaqbihs88 or Iwaqbihs1988 or Iwaqb@hs.
- Try to mix it up a little, you may want to use random Upper case and Lower-case letters. For examples, the “hs” in the password representing high-school could be capitalized, like, IwaqbiHS or the word quarter-back might be hyphenated, Iwaq-bihs.
- Know that longer is usually better, but not always. A six-character password such as 7cG&!s is more secure than a longer password that uses a word or a phrase, such as iloveyou.
- Change passwords to your bank accounts every few months.
- Write down the passwords on a list without user names. Keep it with your passport, car title, Social Security card or other papers you are not likely to lose and never be seen by anyone else. It would be preferable if you never write them down at all.
- If you want the ultimate protection — and have the memory of an elephant — consider using a “random password generator” that you can find by doing an Internet search. It’ll spit out passwords depending on how complicated you want them to be.
Few things to avoid…
- Never have the same password for every account, especially for bank accounts and sites such asAmazon.com that can store your credit card information.
- Never email passwords to yourself. If hackers gain access to your email, they would then have the whole kit and caboodle.
- Don’t share your passwords with friends or family.
- Don’t log into sensitive accounts when using public Wi-Fi.
- And of course, no personal information!
Always remember, choosing a strong password is not enough. You must follow secure practices to protect your digital life. Security is a process not a science, it is perennial and ever-going. You cannot afford to be lax because the bad guys wont be easy and merciful. They will not care about what you’re going through or how much you’ve worked for something. They will get everything they can get their hands on.