Yep, much as you hate to change your passwords, this tip is essential to increasing the safety of your computer. And it’s a part of the security practices you should be using on your computer, here’s a security tip that will only take five minutes to set up on your computer and will reduce your exposure to computer security threats.
Passwords are akin to the lock on the front door of your house…you want to keep the bad guys out, and you use a lock, hopefully strong enough to keep them out, or at least slow their entrance long enough that you can get some help on the way. A strong password will slow, or stop an intruder to your computer.
A strong password is one that is difficult to guess, either by a human or a password breaker program. The characteristics of a strong password are: it should be at least 8 characters in length, include letters(both capital and lower case), numbers, and special characters. Here are some don’ts for a strong password: don’t use a word that can be found in a dictionary; don’t use proper names, the names of your family members, your social security number or any identification number; and don’t use the same password, strong or not, on all the websites and applications, etc. for which you have passwords (if a hacker does guess it, he’ll try to use it on everything else you access).
The practical difference between a strong password and a weak one is that a weak one can be “guessed” by a hacker’s password breaker program in a matter of seconds and a strong one may take days. This is important in that, just like human thieves, the hackers are looking for an easy break-in. If your computer is secured with strong passwords that take more than an hour to break, chances are good that the hacker will just go elsewhere.
Check out my series of articles on passwords for lots more information on the what, why, and how of passwords beginning with Passwords, Passwords, Passwords. They will also explain, in detail, how to create strong passwords…that you can remember.
Passwords must also be kept safe and secure from hackers. They should not be stored on your computer, unless they are stored in a good password manager application that encrypts passwords in storage. The reason for this is that if a hacker should somehow gain access to your computer and passwords, he would have access to all your applications, websites, files, banking accounts,…you get the picture. It’s like leaving the keys to your house in the door knob all night. Not a good idea.
Passwords should also be changed periodically to guard against someone having broken one or more of them. I would suggest changing every password every three to six months, depending on how much you use the Internet. For example, if you don’t surf the net to a great extent and mainly just use your computer for email and word-processing, etc., you may be able to change every six months, otherwise, any heavier Internet use would call for changing every 3 months. If you think your computer or passwords have been compromised in any way the passwords should be changed immediately.
I urge you to take your passwords very seriously. Do your homework by reading my articles and developing the techniques to create strong passwords and keep them fresh. Then develop a plan to make and keep them safe, secure and strong.
Remember, be safe when using the Internet…it’s dangerous out there.
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Home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.