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There are many things that make a bad password. Knowing what components of a password that provide the strongest protection is key.

#1 – Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.

Using the same password for different accounts is like having the same key for your house, your car, your safe and your bank accounts. Once hackers get ahold of your account password, they will try all your accounts to try and retrieve your sensitive information. Also for system administrators, they will try the same thing with multiple servers on your network. Have a different password for each account.

#2 – Write your passwords down

Traditional security practices tell you that users should not write your passwords down. However, writing passwords down often result in passwords that are difficult to remember and are typically stronger. Passwords that can be easily remembered are more likely to be weaker. Make certain that the hard copy of the password is in a physically secure place so that your list itself cannot be compromised. Never store your list on a computer.

#3 – Know what makes a good password

Having a good password means that it is very difficult to successfully guess it. A good password will posses the following qualities:

  • Have at least 6 letters or numbers
  • Have at least one letter, number and special character (!, #, %, @, etc…)
  • Not an actual word in a dictionary

#4 – Never log into websites through links sent through email

If you receive a link from popular online sites such as eBay or other online banks, don’t click it! It could link to a potentially dangerous site that is designed to steal you password. Always type in the address of a website directly into your browser so you know that the site is legitimate.

#5 – Change your password regularly

The best thing that can be done to protect an account is to change it regularly. Common schemes include appending a number to the end of a special sequence. For example, docat44 can be incremented to docat55. The important thing is that you pick a password that you will use diligently.

Additional reading on password security

Microsoft – 5 tips for top-notch password security
Microsoft – School is in: 7 computer security tips for students
Yahoo! Security Center – Choosing Your Password

  January 16, 2006      Comments (0)