Passwords are like underpants – Change them often, keep them private and never share them with anyone.

Joe Berardi, Client Account Representative, Full Service Networking

Here are a few simple tips and techniques to help keep your accounts safer by protecting your passwords. Hackers often utilize password cracking programs that cycle through millions of combinations per second in an attempt to guess your password. Some hackers utilize dictionaries as the source to guess passwords while others simply use brute force measures and run through all combinations of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.

  1. The longer the better. Use long passwords or password phrases of at least 12 characters or more.  Using long password phrases will offer you protection from dictionary attacks as well as brute force attacks. Every additional character you use for a password increases the number of possible combinations exponentially. To create a password phrase do not use a well-known quote, song lyric or line from your favorite movie. Password phrases will be easier to remember if they have a significant meaning to you.
  2. When creating your password phrases utilize upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Do not put the uppercase letters at the beginning and special characters at the end as hackers are well aware of this habit.
  3. Do not use the same password for all of your accounts. Although it is easy to remember just one password it could be a disaster if your password was compromised and used for multiple logins. If you fall victim to a phishing attack where you were tricked into revealing your credentials this could be a catastrophe.
  4. Do not store your passwords in a spreadsheet, a text document or email them to yourself. If a hacker gains access to your computer or email account they will scour your files looking for password lists. It is also not a good practice to write your passwords on a sheet of paper.
  5. Never share your passwords with others. You may have a very secure and complex password but if you share it with someone else and they store it in a file, an email or write it down, then it will make little difference.
  6. Substituting numbers and special characters for letters used to be an effective technique to protect your account, but password cracking software is on to that method. So using Spr1ngst33n for Springsteen, or B@n@n@$ for Bananas, is no longer effective.
  7. Do not use recognizable keystroke patterns for your password. 4rfv5tgb6yhn might look like a tough password to guess but if you look closely at your keyboard you will notice that there is a pattern and your password is not random.