What do LinkedIn, Yahoo!, Sony, Last.fm and eHarmony all have in common? They’ve all leaked users’ passwords–a combined total somewhere in the tens of millions… And yours may have been one of them. You may be thinking, “So what? I changed it already. What do I care if my old Yahoo! password gets out?”
Did you use that same password on more than one site? If so, you open yourself up to a significant risk of attack by a hacker or other intruder. They take your password and username (which they got from leaked list of passwords) and use automated scripts to test that login information on other websites. And if someone else obtains your password, they could use your account to see your private data, such as your email, contacts or bank accounts. On top of that, they might take over your computer or pose as you in order to perform illegal activities, which is something you’d probably want to avoid.
How do you pick a good password?
Now that you know the importance of having good (i.e., strong) passwords, here’s how to make sure they’re actually good:
- Make your password as long as possible. If it’s only 8 characters, it’s probably too short.
- Use numbers and punctuation combined with upper and lowercase letters.
- Do not use words you’d find in a dictionary. Don’t ever use your name either.
- Do not use passwords with easy patterns like qwerty or 098765.
A good way to come up with a long and unique password is to create a passphrase. For example, let’s say the phrase “I think the color blue is lovely!” means something to you. A basic passphrase could be Ithinkthecolorblueislovely!9680. Or try using the first letter of each word in the phrase like Ittcbil!9680. Be creative!
Now that you have a good, strong password, change it often! If your business doesn’t have a password policy that requires a new, strong password every 30 or 60 days, then think about putting one in place.
If you need help with your passwords or password policy, Minneapolis-based OAC Technology can help your business get secure. OAC Technology provides network security services in Minnesota.