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Passwords: The key to a strong foundation

Computer security is a very wide field and can involve complicated issues. However, it can be effectively implemented for free! Probably one of the easiest ways to improve your odds against being a victim of computer crime is to have a strong password.

It seems that today, there are passwords for everything. Anyone who uses the internet probably has a list of sites they access to read email, pay bills or even play games. Social networking, like Facebook or Twitter are excellent tools, but again, you need to have strong passwords. A famous example of having a weak password is former presidental candidate, Sara Palin. By looking through information she had posted on the internet, a college student was able to come up with her password. He then gained access to her Facebook account and created a public relations mess.

Believe it or not, some people use things like “password” or “1234? as passwords. Obviously, these are the easiest to guess. Many computer devices you purchase, like wireless routers and even Windows, has a default administrator pasword that is known by every hacker. People think they are being better than that by thinking of obscure things in their lives that are easy to remember. That makes sense, right?

First, let’s look at one main way hackers find out passwords. One tool hackers use is a program that is linked to one or more dictionaries. Basically, this program goes through each word until it finds a hit. That should convince anyone that common words are probably not a good method.

A good password should have at least 8 characters. The more the better. Good passwords have a combination of letters, numbers and special characters, like &*%#$. I have found some sites that do not like those, but most of the time they will work. Also, adding capital letters can also work because often passwords are case sensitive.

Obviously, a password like the above could be hard to remember thus leading someone to write it down somewhere. A definite no, no! Another way is to make a phrase that is easy to remember, but is hard to guess as a password. An example might be, Iluv28@joes (I love to eat at Joe’s). It has a capital letter, numbers and special characters.

As I mentioned before, writing passwords down is out. The first place a hacker will look if they are at your computer, trying to hack in is under the keyboard. This is a common place for people to “hide” written passwords. A true story of this is the infamous spy ring, from Russia, the FBI broke up. They were sending classified information back to Russia embedded in images using a technique called Steganography. The password to use the program to encode these messages was long and complicated. When the FBI was searching their apartmnet, they found the password written down on a piece of paper and thus helped nail them.

Passwords are a frontline defense in the war against hackers and cybercriminals. While a password should be easy enough for you to remember it, it should also be able to not be easily guessed at by someone who wants to do harm to your computer or steal your data.

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About the Author

Glen Frisco, Patriot Computer Consultants
2135 Chesterfield Dr
Maryville, TN 37803

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