Many people say to me, “I don’t need a secure password. I don’t have anything sensitive on my computer, so I don’t care if a hacker gets in.” You, my friends, are a hacker’s dream. Because it’s not necessarily your personal information they want, although they’ll happily steal your credit card info if they can. No, what they really want is control of your computer, your email address, your Facebook page… anything and everything that will let them do their dirty work from behind a smokescreen.
Let me teach you how to be a hacker’s worst nightmare by using strong passwords that are:
- At least 6-12 characters in length
- A mix of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols if allowed
- Not common words or proper nouns found in a dictionary
- Not in use on any other system
- Changed regularly (at least once every few months)
The most common password mistakes I see are:
- Using no password at all (e.g. hitting Enter)
- Using common passwords like “password,” “123456,” spouse’s name, or pet’s name
- Using a common dictionary word with an exclamation point at the end
- Using the same password for everything
- Rotating through the same two or three passwords for everything
- Sharing passwords with others
- Sending passwords via email
- Sticking passwords on Post-It notes on monitors or under keyboards
Why not take this opportunity to change your passwords? It’s the best thing you can do to protect yourself against identity theft and cybercrime.
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