Recent security breaches highlight the need for stronger passwords
How secure is your password? An even better question for you to ponder is how easy would it be for me to break it and access that data you really want protected?
Recently, there have been several high profile breaches of security, causing a lot of attention to be drawn to the issue of password security. The most recent was the revelation that a Russian hacker has leaked over six million passwords of users on the Social Networking site LinkedIn. (This article in our knowledge base will help you change your LinkedIn password.)
So now we ask you, how secure is your password?
Not long ago, a client had asked us for help with a breach of her twitter account, and we have followed closely the woes of an english software provider whose client base had their passwords and credit cards exposed in a hacking event that was made easier because they failed to follow some simple password security measures.
Strong passwords are essential to protect your privacy and other sensitive information in a world where we are increasingly exposing ourselves to the world through online shopping, twitter, facebook, and even things as simple as web based email.
Following a few simple tips can save you a lot of worry before an attack exposes your information, and it will save you a lot of effort after the fact.
Seriously, make your password strong.
Simple words or phrases are easily broken, and even though we love your little dog as much as you do, mydogmuffin is not a strong password! For the fun of it, why not run some of your passwords through the "How strong is my password" tool.
Once you see how weak your passwords really are, we encourage you to strengthen them by using a strong password generator .
Never use the same password on more than one site. I know it's a hassle, but if you use the same password on multiple sites, you make it even easier for rouges to access your data accross all those platforms.
While it may be a pain to keep track of all those passwords, imagine having to change them on every site if your privacy is violated. By the way, the first thing a rogue does once they have your password is usually change it so that you are effectively locked out of your own account.
We like a free tool, KeePass, for keeping up with the multitude of passwords we use everyday at Strother Web Solutions.
My favorite uncle is cheeseburger, no mustard.
While they are meant to increase your security, having you use seemingly mundane answers to simple questions poses a great risk to your privacy.
I can look at your facebook profile, and easily determine the answer to such challenging questions as "What was your high school mascot". Determining your mothers maiden name just takes an account at ancestry.com. The answer to "In what city was your first job?" is probably the same as the city you grew up in, again found on facebook.
What we suggest is that you use these questions to your advantage, by having having a non-sensical answer. My favorite uncle: Cheeseburger, no mustard. The middle name of my youngest child: Cats fly when shoes are dwarfs.
Again, KeePass is great for keeping track of these, since you probably wont remember such nonsense when you really need it.
Your money and your life are at stake
Don't put off these changes until it's too late. Six million people around the world went to bed recently thinking that their LinkedIn accounts were safely protected behind a password that was compromised while they slept. Hopefully you dodged this bullet, so now is the time to upgrade your own security.
If I can get into your bank account because I know your first car was a mustang, I can easily drain it before you even know there is a problem.
And, with so much of our personal reputations tied up in facebook, twitter, and pinterest, does it really make sense to use the same password for all of those? Especially if that password is weak and easily broken.
Have you got a password horror story to tell? Share your own experiences by posting a comment below. While you're at it, please share this article with your own social media audience (but change your password first!)