Intelligent hackers bombard a login scheme with all the words in a dictionary so that they may “discover” the password that unlocks it. This is known as a dictionary attack. If they know something about you, such as your spouse’s name, the kind of car you drive, or your interests, clever intruders can narrow the range of possible passwords and try those first. They are often successful. Even slight variations, such as adding a digit onto the end of a word or replacing the letter o with the digit 0 (zero), don’t protect passwords. Intruders know we use tricks like this to make our passwords more difficult to guess.
Keep in mind you don’t have to have malicious software on your computer for your passwords to be compromised. If you log into a site without a secure connection (not an HTTPS site) through a public Wi-Fi network, your information may be wide open to anyone and everyone.
a) Is the password strong in terms of length and content?
b) Is the password unique and unrelated to any of your other passwords?
c) Can you remember it without writing it down?
a) Never use your name, birthday, driver’s license or passport number.
b) Commit your passwords to memory and don’t store them on your computer or in your mobile phone.
c) Change your passwords often. It’s the easiest thing you can do.
d) If a website or browser asks to keep you signed in, unclick that option and take the time to re-enter your password each time.
e) Clear your browsing history or cache after online banking and shopping.
f) If you get an e-mail that includes a password you’ve just set up, delete it.
g) Make sure sites are secure before you enter your password.
h) Avoid using a single dictionary word for a password.
i) Stay away from things like words spelled backwards, misspelled words, and abbreviations that are easy to figure out.
j) Don’t repeat numbers (5555) and letters (bbbb), include simple sequences (abcdefg or 56789) or use letters that appear in a row on your keyboard (qwerty).
k) Make sure that you change you change your phone’s default password that came with it.
l) Use different passwords for different online accounts, especially those dealing with sensitive or financial information (banking online).