Everyday, people use passwords, passphrases, and personal identification numbers (PINs) for tasks such as: using an ATM, using a debit card, Facebook, email, online bank accounts, etc…Even though keeping track of each password can be frustrating, it may be more important than you think. Often, an attack is not specifically about your account but about using the access to your information to launch a larger attack, such as gaining access to your social security number or medical records.
Passwords are the most common means of authentication, but if you don’t choose good passwords or keep them confidential, they’re almost as ineffective as not having any password at all. Many systems and services have been successfully broken into due to the use of insecure and inadequate passwords, and some viruses and worms have exploited systems by guessing weak passwords.
To choose a good password, you shouldn’t base it on any of your personal information. An attacker could easily find out your address, phone number, or birthday, so veer away from passwords using that info. Also, passwords that are simply words that can be found in the dictionary are vulnerable to “dictionary” attacks.
A good method to creating a password is using a series of words with lower and upper case letters, numbers, and symbols. The more complicated you make your pass codes, the more secure your accounts are. You can use memory techniques, or mnemonics, to help you remember how to decode it.
Longer passwords are more secure than shorter ones because there are more characters to guess, so consider using passphrases when you can. For example, “This passwd is 4 my email!” would be a strong password because it has many characters and includes lowercase and capital letters, numbers, and special characters. You may need to try different variations of a passphrase — many applications limit the length of passwords, and some do not accept spaces. Avoid common phrases, famous quotations, and song lyrics.
The most important tip to remember is to use different passwords. If an attacker somehow discovered one of your repeated passwords, they could gain access to each account with that password.
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