Good Passwords vs Bad Passwords

Everything requires a password in today’s world. Whether it’s logging onto our work computers, shopping on websites, or even locking smart phones, there are only so many passwords a person can remember.

Then throw in the websites that force us to change those passwords every so often. No wonder we resort to repeating passwords. But what makes a good password?

According to Forbes Magazine and based on millions of passwords that were stolen and posted online, the top 10 worst in 2011 were:

1)     password

2)     123456

3)     12345678

4)     qwerty (You’ll understand once you look at your keyboard)

5)     abc123

6)     monkey

7)     1234567

8)     letmein

9)     trustno1 (oh, the irony!)

10)  dragon (not sure why this is so popular)

(If you recognize any of these, stop reading and go change your password(s) now.)

Here are 10 tips to create secure passwords:

Five password do’s

Great passwords should:

1)     Be at least eight characters

2)     Contain characters in the middle of them

3)     Use upper- and lower-case letters

4)     Be changed regularly

5)     Kept a secret

Five don’ts:

Passwords should never:

1)     Use part of your email address

2)     Be a word from the dictionary

3)     Contain names of family members

4)     Be duplicated on other sites

5)     Use simple translation, such as pa$$word (password) or @pple (apple)

As children become more involved with online games and social-networking sites, it’s important to teach them how to create strong passwords. Hackers can steal identities in creative ways, so it’s best to never give them the chance. If they get a hold of you, your credit and much more could end up in the gutter.

One idea is to create a sentence for a password, such as IloveBarney!Purpleisfun or BritneySpearsrocks!Ilovehertunes. Choose something that you and your child can remember.

Another idea is to use the child’s name but with plenty of characters; for example, Sarah becomes :) S..@@..rr@@…Hhh:)

Remind children not to give other people their passwords. If it must be written down, place it in an out-of-the-way location.

Another common issue with passwords occurs when people reuse them for different accounts. If the account’s security is breached, many sites can then be accessed. It is possible to use variations of the same password, but it must be different enough that a hacker cannot link one account to another.

If you’re curious to see how your passwords stack up, check http://www.passwordmeter.com.

Don’t make it easy on a potential hacker. Avoid using obvious words, such as “password.” Seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people use that.

Contributor:  Laura Burkey is a blogger who writes about a variety of topics including gardening, social media, and gutters.

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