Are you aware that should something illegal be found on your PC, the first thing that the investigator will do is check your profile of your login, that login is protected by a password and thus it is assumed in a court of law, unless you can prove otherwise that your profile was under your control. This effectively leaves the “smoking gun” in your hand. Having a good and strong password is all fine and well, but who do you share that password with ? How safe is it in the hands of another ?

Passwords are used for virtually everything we do online. Passwords protect our identities on websites, discussion groups, e-mail accounts and more. Many family computers with multiple user accounts employ passwords. They are also used for bank transactions and making secure purchases. With all of this sensitive data at stake, creating good passwords is very important to prevent identity theft. Passwords are the main defense against computer hackers. Hackers typically try to break into a computer or secure account by guessing passwords one at a time. Automated programs can also be used to repeatedly guess passwords from a database of common words or other information. Even the best passwords can be defeated with enough time, skill, and computer processing power – but a strong password is vital to buy time, prevent attacks by less determined hackers, and send up red flags that can help catch such fraudsters in the act.

SECURE PASSWORD DO’S

Most passwords are case sensitive. This means that capitalization counts: “mypassword” is different from “MyPassword” (neither of which are good passwords, by the way!) Use this to your advantage by using mixed-case typing in your passwords. Capitalize the first letter, every other letter, or some similar, memorable arrangement. Keyboard symbols such as ampersand, pound, percent and others are allowed in almost all passwords, and are very unlikely to be guessed, so use them when possible. Always use at least six, but ideally eight or more characters in a password, with at least one number. If possible, use a password that can be typed quickly and would be difficult for someone nearby to spy on. The “ultimate” password is probably a random sequence of letters, numbers, and symbols, but make sure it’s a sequence you can remember! If any system or account you access has a default password provided by that system, change it as soon as possible.

PASSWORDS ON SIMPLE SITES

Another thing to keep in mind is that some of the passwords you think matter least actually matter most. For example, some people think that the password to their e-mail box isn’t important because “I don’t get anything sensitive there.” Well, that e-mail box is probably connected to your online banking account. If I can compromise it then I can log into the Bank’s Web site and tell it I’ve forgotten my password to have it e-mailed to me. Now, what were you saying about it not being important?

Often times people also reason that all of their passwords and logins are stored on their computer at home, which is save behind a router or firewall device. Of course, they’ve never bothered to change the default password on that device, so someone could drive up and park near the house, use a laptop to breach the wireless network and then try passwords from this list until they gain control of your network – after which time they will own you!

Now I realize that every day we encounter people who over-exaggerate points in order to move us to action, but trust me this is not one of those times. There are 50 other ways you can be compromised and punished for using weak passwords that I haven’t even mentioned.

I also realize that most people just don’t care about all this until it’s too late and they’ve learned a very hard lesson. But why don’t you do me, and yourself, a favor and take a little action to strengthen your passwords and let me know that all the time I spent on this article wasn’t completely in vain.

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