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Password Security for the Masses

The topic of this article may seem a little off-topic for this series of Internet Marketing articles at first glance, but anyone using the internet for marketing their website and many other purposes will find themselves frequently asked to create some sort of account with a password. This information can also be useful for other online activities such as shopping and banking.

Striking a Balance of Usability and Security With Passwords

The most commonly used passwords for MySpace accounts and other online tasks, tend to be things that people can remember easily or are easy to type. They may be a pet's name, a favorite dish or drink, or an easy typing sequence like 1234 or asdf. Hackers know this. In fact, most password cracking programs work by taking words from a list and attempting to log in with them. A list might include something like:



...and about 10,000 other commonly used password phrases and key combinations.

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Because it is a computer program, it can make thousands of attempts every minute. So, it is important to make a password that would be more difficult to “fish” out. Many exploits can be traced back to someone who was to lazy to change a default User Name/Password combo, or to use something more imaginative than “asdf” and “jkl;”.

coffee1234 or javagurl1 may be user friendly and easy to remember, but they are not very secure passwords. Something along the lines of:

mjs1028detmi

would be better to use. Now you ask, how can I ever remember something like that? When you are creating your passwords, create them with mental cues for yourself. The above example, for instance, might be mother's initials, GF's birthday, Detroit Michigan where my uncle lives.


Building More Security into Your Passwords

An additional way to strengthen the above password would be chop and mix the pieces of information, such as:

mjs10det28mi

It is also a good idea capitalize one or two letters when the option is available, maybe like:

mjs10dEt28mI

Another trick would be to substitute a number for a letter, or vice versa:

mjs10d3t28mI

Don't Settle for the Minimum in Password Security

And remember, don't use the minimum password length! Any hacker who is trying to get into Myspace accounts or Paypal accounts has set up a seemingly legit account just to learn the rules and how they might develop their password list. Exploits of large institutions like universities or banks, often involve insider information from someone who may know about the inner workings of the system. If the minimum password length is 8 characters, use 10 or 11, maybe 15+.

Conclusion

A password like mjs10d3t28mI may seem like a bit of a mish mash, but to the person who created it, it can still be easy enough to remember. It doesn't take a "computer geek" to beat a hacker!





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