Knock, Knock. Who’s There?

Between the Heartbleed surprise and the multiple IE platform security flaw, people are more aware than ever that having a strong password is just one of the many ways to protect confidential information posted on the Internet.  That being said, having a strong password isn’t enough when it comes to protection.

What don’t you know about Internet security?

Facebook is still the most popular social media platform in use despite the proliferation of other social media platforms.  Every single day, about 600,000 hackers log into Facebook with the intention of breaching as many users’ personal security as possible.

What else don’t you know about Internet security?

According to Jeremi Gosney, CEO of Stricture Consulting Group, it takes only 16 minutes to crack over 10,000 passwords. The most successful hackers can decipher encrypted passwords about 90 percent of the time while the least successful hackers are successful about 60 percent of the time.  In other words, a bad hacker will figure out your password more often than not, and a good hacker will figure out your password almost every single time!

Are you safe with a really long password?

Safer yes, but not safe.  In an experiment run back in 2013, hackers were able to creak even 16-character passwords such as ‘qeadzcwrsfxv1331.’  So safe doesn’t mean untouchable.  Keep that at the forefront of your mind when you create passwords.

Is passwords are never safe, why bother trying?

Because no matter how easily a hacker can breach your password, it’s still going to take longer with a strong password than with a weak one. A weak password can be breached in seconds through a “brute force” attack.

Will “salting” help make password stronger?

As with any password, salting may help but it doesn’t help as much as people think it does.  Random numbers added to passwords makes them marginally more challenging to hackers because the benefit of salting is diminished with each cracked hash.

Is there any use to using non-words, upper and lower case letters, and random numbers in passwords?

Absolutely.  Avoiding common words and common number sequences reduces — but doesn’t eliminate — the chances of your password being easily hacked.  Be creative knowing that hackers rely on logical progressions whereas creativity relies on the person’s personal experiences.

If you come up with a “killer” password, one is all you need, right?

Each online account that requires a password needs its own “killer” password.  If you use one password for all your online accounts, you give hackers a single point of entry to breach.  Don’t make a hacker’s life easier by using only one hard-to-break password.  Make them all as hard-to-break as possible.  And change them on a regular basis.

Should I rely on the auto-remember on my computer or on a site to keep me logged in or to log me back in later on?

Absolutely not!  With a program automatically remembering your password, you’ve just handed the keys to your locked house over to someone you don’t know so to speak.  A hacker can then pick up the keys and unlock your accounts.

If you have multiple passwords to remember, how do you  make sure you don’t accidentally forget them?

Back in the olden days, there was something we liked to call a rotary file.  We also had index cards, index card dividers, and index card boxes. And pens.  In fact, many office supply stores still carry all of those.  For each site that requires a password, keep a hand-written card on file (don’t use your computer to print them as the information will be stored on your computer in a document).  No matter how talented a hacker may be, he or she will never be able to hack your hand-written files sitting on your desk that aren’t cross-referenced somewhere on your computer, you tablet, you iPad, or any other form of technology you may be using now or in the future.

Elyse Bruce


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