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Last Updated: 5/28/2011 5:43:13 PM
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Safe Password Tips

By Erik Rodriguez

This article describes methods that should be taken to create "safe" passwords. Identity theft is the number 1 crime on the Internet today; don't let it happen to you! Using these methods will ensure your privacy.

When computers or computer systems are hacked, it's usually due to a "weak password." A weak password can be characterized by several things. Below is a list that constitutes a weak password. Do not use any of these methods when creating your passwords:

Bad Ideas for Passwords

  • No password at all!
  • Your name
  • Same name as a user account (ex. administrator)
  • Things that can be guessed easily (pet names, car you drive, girlfriend's name, etc)
  • Passwords consisting of all numbers
Hackers will try all of the above and certain commonly used passwords. Some of these include:
  • administrator
  • admin
  • letmein
  • 1234 (even though I have the same combination on my luggage...)
  • pass
  • guest
  • user
Good password habits include creating good passwords from the start, changing them often, and not writing them down next to your monitor. I can't tell you how many people have sticky notes on their monitor that say "email password." This is especially important in corporate environments. Remember, not everyone at your workplace is your friend. Another big "no no" is having a file on your desktop named passwords'.

Good Ideas for Passwords

  • At least 6 characters
  • Special Characters (ex. $#@!&*)
  • Change often (at least every 6 months)
  • Do not use variations (ex. adding a 2 onto your old password)
  • NEVER USE YOUR NAME (easily guessed)
  • A combination of numbers and letters
  • Use a different password for different things
The best passwords contain no words. Using a special character near the middle makes brute force cracking a much longer process. It is not a good idea to use the same password for everything. Now that doesn't mean you need a special password for everything. In the course of a single day I login to 10 or so machines, sites, etc. Of those 10, I use 4 different passwords. An example of a good password would be 790e$qw3. A password like that would take weeks or even months to crack. Obviously, the more characters in the password, the longer it would take to crack. Most importantly, if you make a good password, don't forget it. If you are going to write it down, write it somewhere safe. Next to your computer, under your mattress, or the back of your keyboard are not good ideas. I suggest you write it down on a small piece of paper, and put it in an old shoe for a few weeks. If you don't forget it after a few weeks, chances are you're going to remember it so you can throw the paper away. Rembmer, identity theft is the number one crime on the Internet today! Don't you think it would be better to take my advice rather than spend months or even years trying to fix your life after someone stole your identity?

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