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Protect yourself from password hacking

By 123 Reg - April 17, 2008

Passwords and codes are a part of everyday life now. There is no escaping it. However, are you choosing ones which are strong enough to defeat the new bread of password hacking cyber criminals?

When you have to put a password into multiple systems many times a day, it can be tempting to choose a really simple one, then never change it. Worse, you might write it down on a piece of paper. I’ll put my hands up – I used to be guilty of this.

However, when these passwords can be all that’s protecting your email or your bank account, it’s worth taking the effort to make them hard to break. I’ve learnt there are a few tips that will help you make your passwords stronger and foil those pesky password hacking criminals.

It can be very tempting to use a word or number that’s easy to remember as your password. However, these are very easy to crack, putting your private information at risk from. Here are some tips on how to make a strong, hacking-resistant password that will help improve your security on the internet.

(Some of this may just sound like commonsense, but you might be surprised how many people are putting themselves at risk of identity theft just because they have weak passwords.)

  • Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.
  • Try to make your passwords as meaningless and random as possible.
  • Make sure your passwords are at least eight characters long. The more characters they contain, the more difficult they are to guess.
  • Change your passwords regularly. Set up a routine, changing your passwords the first day of each month or every other pay day.
  • Use different passwords for each account.
  • Never write your passwords down, and never give them out to anyone.

You should also make sure that your passwords are not easy to guess. To avoid creating an easily-guessed password have a look at my tips for things not to do:

  • Don’t use your username or login in any form.
  • Don’t use names or numbers associated with you, like you birthday or a nickname.
  • Don’t use a derivative of your name, the name of a family member, or the name of a pet.
  • Don’t use the word ‘password’.
  • Don’t use dictionary words – in any language.
  • Don’t use easily-obtained personal information. This includes car registration numbers, phone numbers, your car’s make or model, your street address and so on.

I think those are all my main tips for avoiding password hacking. What are yours? Leave a comment to let us know.