This is pretty simple.  Change your passwords and change ‘em often.

An easy way for you to protect your sensitive data and email is to change your passwords on a monthly basis, or even more often depending on how frequently you use computers away from home.

If you log on to your email on any remote computer – such as at the library or in cyber cafes – then the possibility exists that the computer could have a key-stroking virus present.

What this means to you is that everything you type into the computer (passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc.) could be logged and used by someone else.

Just as important as changing your password is choosing good passwords.  Let’s talk about what makes a good password and what makes a bad one.

Bad Passwords

Bad passwords are passwords that most people use because they are easiest to remember!  But keep in mind they are also the first things a hacker will try when they try to target you.

Bad Passwords include:

  • Your phone number(s)
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your address
  • Your birth date, or any birthday of someone in your immediate family
  • Any form of your name, your spouse’s name, children, grandchildren, or pets
  • Any names of people you know — especially your kids.
  • Any month of the year
  • Any word in any cracking dictionary.”  There are lists of words that “crackers” use to try to crack passwords: passwords that a lot of people use. Some of these lists include:   Abbreviations, Asteroids, Biology, Cartoons, Character Patterns, Machine names, famous names, female names, Bible, male names, Movies, Myths-legends, Number Patterns, Short Phrases, Places, Science Fiction, Shakespeare, Songs, Sports, Surnames
  • A password you have shared with someone else.

Good Passwords

Now there are also good passwords.  First and foremost, a password is NEVER SHARED WITH ANYONE!

A good password:

  • 6 – 8 characters long
  • In general, a good password will have a mix of lower- and upper-case characters, numbers, and punctuation marks.  Unfortunately, passwords like this are often hard to remember and result in people writing them down.
  • Do not write your passwords down!  If you do, don’t keep them at the office or other public place.  Keep them in a secured location at home.
  • Some people like to pick several small words, separated by punctuation marks of some kind, such as aSk%mE
  • The most secure password is a random string of gibberish. But usually this is less than ideal because it will be hard to remember. So always make sure that you can both rememberand type your password easily.
  • Something that Only YOU will think of!

Your password protects your computer account from unwanted intrusion. Anyone with access to your username and password can gain access to all your files, email, and anything else you use the computer for.

So it merits saying again.  Change your passwords often and choose good passwords!