Hearing the word “hacker” may conjure up the image of a teenaged wiz-kid up all night systematically trying to guess at passwords. But hacking has become a much more complex, sophisticated, and lucrative operation. Password-guessing programs can test millions of passwords per second and hack up to 1,000 accounts every 15 minutes. Breached passwords are sold auction-style on black market sites and may be worth up to $20 apiece.¹,²
So, what does that mean to you? It means your passwords are valuable and vulnerable commodities. There are steps you can take to help foil hackers and protect your privacy. Consider these strategies for protecting your passwords.
No Plain English
Simple strings of numbers, along with passwords that can be found in the dictionary, are the easiest to crack. One study of a hack on the social gaming website RockYou found that the most common password among users was “123456.” In fact, more than half a million of the users hacked chose passwords composed of only consecutive numbers.³ Hackers most often start by testing words in the dictionary, as well as aggregates of the most common passwords previously cracked.⁴ If your password is not in this set, you’re likely better off.
Fast Fact: There are more than a billion logins to Facebook every 24 hours.Of those, more than 600,000 are hackers trying to access other users’ personal information.
Forbes June 6, 2012
Mix It Up
Many people use the same password for multiple accounts because it’s easier to remember. But this could lead to serious consequences. You may not be too concerned about the personal information stored in your LinkedIn or Twitter accounts, but what would happen if hackers used your compromised password to access your email, brokerage, or bank accounts? If you have trouble remembering multiple passwords, you may want to keep a list, but don’t store it on your desktop or in your inbox. Give the file a misleading name and bury it where only you can find it.
Favor Length and Complexity
The longer your password, the more difficult it will be to crack. Instead of a password, consider using a favorite movie quote, song lyric, or poem. To make your password even stronger, string together only the first couple letters of each word in the phrase. Another strategy involves simply jamming on the keyboard, intermittently hitting Shift and Alt keys until you have a password you’re satisfied with. For sensitive accounts, it may make sense to change your passwords on a regular basis. If you like the idea of optimal password protection but worry you won’t be able to handle multiple changing passwords, password-protection software can help you organize, store, and use password data.
There’s no such thing as an impregnable password. Still, putting personal information behind a basic password is like leaving your Porsche in a parking lot with your keys on the dash. By taking preventative measures to strengthen your password, you may be able to help safeguard your sensitive personal data and your privacy.
Recognize Any of These?
Take a look at the most common passwords of 2012. If your password is one of these, it might be time to make a change.
PRWeb, October 23, 2012
1,4 The New York Times, November 7, 2012
2,3 Forbes June 6, 2012
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2013 FMG Suite.