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My password is "password" (uh-oh!)

Password We hear all the time that we should use secure passwords. But what does that mean?

I ran across a good article that discusses passwords and how quickly they could be cracked. Do you do online banking or keep sensitive information in your email? You might want to reconsider what you're using for your passwords...

Some good points from the article:

  • A password that is a simple word is the easiest to crack. Try not to use regular words found in the dictionary. 
  • Don't use your birthdate, child or pet's name, or favorite place. If you are sharing such personal information out on the internet (Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, etc), you may be providing the world with the information they need to hack your accounts.
  • The ideal password is a mix of upper and lower-case characters with some numbers and symbols thrown in (this article from PC World has some very good suggestions for how to make one that's easy to remember)
  • If you must set a "secret question" for a website, try to avoid choosing mother's maiden name, place of birth, or first school if possible-- this is information that is easy for anyone to find out.

Remember how Sarah Palin's email account was hacked? The hacker had guessed Palin's password by looking up biographical details such as her high school and birthdate. Yikes!

Want to find out how secure your password is?  Try Microsoft's Password Checker.  (Update: Microsoft's Password Checker is no longer available)

Wondering what the most common (and least secure) passwords are? Take a look at this article by Tom's Hardware.


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