How to Survive the Password Apocalypse

By Dubzz | Friday, December 28, 2012

Take a look at our top tips and tricks for choosing a secure password.

Your digital life is no longer safe. No matter how complex, or unique, your passwords can no longer protect you from hackers. These simple string of characters can reveal everything about you – and as our online accounts become more interconnected it is becoming even easier for hackers to gain access from one service to another.

How are our online passwords being hacked? They are simply guessed, or lifted from a password dump, taken by brute force, stolen with a key-logger  or reset by conning a company’s customer support department. As technology advances so too does the hackers skill-set, with the number of data breaches in the US increasing by 67% in 2011 (Wired, 2012).

Unfortunately no one has come up with an alternative to the password yet, and if you are an internet user you know that there is no way to have an account anywhere without having one. So until someone figures out a better system for protecting our stuff online, here is our advice on how to make your accounts harder (but not impossible) to crack.

Password Don’ts

Reuse passwords – if a hacker cracks just one of your accounts with that password he will then have access to them all.

Use a dictionary word as your password – every word in a dictionary will fail under a simple dictionary attack or brute force attack from hackers.

Use the usual number substitutions – cracking tools are now built to figure out passwords like “5h3LLfOrd”.

Use a short password – it won’t matter how complex it is, today’s processing speeds mean that even a password like “M%3#B” will be cracked quickly.

Password Do’s

Enable two-factor authentication if available – a feature that asks for more than just your password. Usually requires “something you know” (a password) and “something you have” (a phone number).

Give dummy answers to security questions – this can act as a secondary password. For example: What was your mother’s maiden name? Why, it was “Super Lady Boots Barbie” of course. Just don’t forget it…

Suppress your online presence – Your email and billing address information is one of the easiest ways for hackers to get into your account. Having these details removed from public sites like whitepages.co.nz will make it harder for hackers to get their hands on it.

Use a secure email address specifically for password recoveries – create an email account solely for the purpose of password recovery. This will make stop hackers from knowing where your password reset goes. Make sure you choose an account name that isn’t tied to your name so that it won’t be easily guessed.

The new year is only a few days away. Make it one of your new years resolutions to make your online life more secure!

 

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