Password safety

Today I typed “free password cracking software” into my Google search bar and guess what happened. I found About 5,110,000 results (0.43 seconds). Yes, that is five million one hundred and ten thousand results in less than ½ of a second.
The good news is, in the same ½ of a second the search for “safe password tips” produced About 33,800,000 results. Based on the first result do you think you should check out the second search? Here is a basic breakdown, but I always recommend doing your own research. Things do change.
1. Not only should you meet, but I recommend exceeding requirements. In other words, they say you must have 8 characters and 1 upper case, 1 lower case, 1 number and 1 special character, I would tell you to make it longer and mix them up.
2. Avoid personal information. House number, pets name, phone number, kid’s names can all be looked up. Bad guys know this.
3. Avoid common words or better yet, any words.
a. Password cracking software can try every word in the dictionary in a matter of a few minutes.
b. Word combinations only take a bit longer.
4. Don’t reuse passwords.
a. They get one they have them all.
5. Keep them secure. I know is sounds like it need not be said, but it is amazing how many computers that we work on have the password on a sticky note some place on the computer or desk. Others have a file on the computer desktop with a full list of passwords. Not a good idea.
6. Use a tool to make and securely save passwords.
a. We use KeePass (you can get it here)but there are many available and most are free. (we will help you install and train you on how to use at no charge)
b. Make sure the tool encrypts your stored passwords
7. Be prepared to have your password reset.
a. Use a cell phone number or email address if possible.
b. If you use secret questions, lie when you answer.Bad guys can look up your mother’s maiden name. Use something you made up. The problem is remembering your lie, but that is what #6 will help with.
8. Answer NO when the computer asks if you would like this password saved.
a. When you save it to the computer it becomes easy to retrieve by someone who can gain access to your computer.
This is my “short list” of password rules. This is by no means meant to scare you. Computers and the internet when used correctly are very safe. In fact, online banking is said to be safer than writing a check. The key is to educate yourself. PMC Computers is available to help you and to answer questions any time. Oh, and so you know, I get it. Do I break the rules listed above? Sure I do, but not with my banking login or any other financial or client information. It is all about risk tolerance. If you break in to my solitaire game I am not going to lose and sleep.

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