I am re-posting a series of articles on passwords. Most of us are vulnerable to many and varied threats to our computers, and we must do everything we can to protect against these attacks. The proper use of passwords is essential to be more safe in this incredibly dangerous environment we’re exposed to each time we use the Internet or open an email. Your attention and response to this four part series will arm you against many threats.
If you use the Internet and/or store valuable or personal information on your computer; you must defend against a multitude of threats in today’s computing environment. We are constantly bombarded with viruses, bots, worms, and hackers that want to break into our computers and obtain information which can be used to make money for the cyber criminals who own them. The cyber nuts who do these things have shifted from introverted techie hackers who want to make a name for themselves at a Black Hat Convention (an annual conference for hackers), to organized groups of hackers whose purpose in life is to steal personal information for profit (think Russian Mafia).
The tools they use are bots that infiltrate your computer, store themselves on your disk, and collect information such as your social security number, name, address, credit card numbers. This information is used to charge directly to your credit card accounts and to commit identity theft in order to open new accounts in your name. And many still use the tried and true method of hacking (gaining access) your computer and searching your files, etc. until they find something of value.
In many cases having a good, strong password is the last line of defense against these thieves. Because the stronger the password, the longer it will take a hacker to find out what yours is. And like most thieves, hackers want to get in, get the goods, and get out as quickly as possible. Therefore, just like a house burglar will go to the next house if he sees a dog or an alarm system, so will a hacker move on to a computer with a weak password upon encountering one that is taking a while to discover.
So…why do we need passwords? Because without them you’re unprotected against crooks…much akin to not locking the doors to your house, period. Passwords Part II will address strong passwords.