CAREER ADVANCEMENT / AUG. 19, 2014
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8 Ways to Strengthen Your Password

Recently, the New York Times reported that Russian hackers have stolen 1.2 billion username and password combinations, and more than 500 million email addresses. This data was stolen from about 420,000 websites varying in size and popularity. The target wasn’t exclusive to the United States, either--in fact, the Russian crime ring targeted any site they could in order to gain this incredibly sensitive data.

While this may seem like a golden opportunity for security firms, it’s no joke to those of us who use the Internet for banking, communication and businesses.

Instead of buying costly subscriptions to the latest security software, try instead taking some simple steps to ensuring that your password is as strong as it can be (changing your passwords in general is a fairly good idea, however).

Longer is better

Some sites have a required number of characters for each password, and if you’re only inputting the minimum amount of characters required, your account becomes easier for computers or hackers to access. The ideal password length is beteween 14 and 25 characters.

Replace letters with numbers and symbols

Including only letters in your password makes it pretty easy to figure out, especially for a computer or bot farming passwords. Instead, trying replace letters with numbers and symbols. For example, replace lowercase ’i’s with an exclamation point. The letter ’e’ can also be replaced with the number 3.

Don’t just stick with words you know

Try inventing new words to make passwords tougher to crack. For example, your first and last name backwards can be nearly impossible for anyone to guess.

Try not to use personal information

Using the name of your spouse or pet can be endearing (maybe), but they’re also pretty easy to look up and guess. Addresses and birthdays are also easily accessible and should not be used as passwords, even if they are easy to remember.

Do not use the same password for everything

I’m guilty of this, but using the same password for every account is an incredibly risk practice. Once someone has access to one account--yeah, you guessed it. They now have access to all of your accounts.

Changing your password every couple of months is also a good idea, but these are some basic steps you can take to ensure that your passwords aren’t easily crackable. If you have trouble remembering your passwords, try investing in a physical password journal or writing them down in a notebook. Do not save a list of accounts and passwords to your computer.

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