Sunday, January 8, 2012

Password Tips for Security

Passwords are required for logging into your system, website, or an application. The logging credentials include a username and a password and both these needs to be secure enough for maintaining your account from theft or vulnerability from intruders. Strong usernames and passwords are essential for those who use the system and online services more frequently. Weak passwords increase your vulnerability to hackers and intruders and increase the chances of identity theft. Strong passwords are critical for computer and online security. A strong password is important in protecting your system and also helps you have a safe online interaction. The liability is serious when it is your company's security that is compromised which also includes your customer's. So password security is overall important both at the personal level and also for the company. One of the problems with passwords is that users forget them but that is not an excuse for using weak passwords.

Here are some steps that you can take to avoid common password pitfalls by avoiding weak passwords, creating strong passwords, and keeping it secure enough.

Avoid Weak Passwords:
1. Do not use personal information. You should never use personal information as a part of your password such as your first name, last name, login name, pet's name, child's birth date, names of family members, pets, or close acquaintances and other similar details in any form.
2. Do not use a password less than at least 8 characters long.
3. Do not use real words or dictionary words in any language. Today there are tools that are available to help attackers guess your password by trying every word in the dictionary and find your password. So it is not better you do not use real words for the password.
4. Do not use consecutive sequences, repetitive numbers, letters, or characters such as 12345678, AAAAAAAA, or %%%%%% etc.
5. Do not use words spelled forward or backward words, common misspellings, or abbreviations.
6. Do not use adjacent keyboard letters such as qwerty, yuiop, or asdfghjkl.
7. Do not use easily obtained information, such as your name, birthday, driver's license, passport number, address, license plate numbers, telephone numbers, credit card or ATM numbers, Social Security or Social Insurance numbers, email addresses, popular book titles, movie titles, phrases, or similar information.
8. Do not use the same password for logging in to different websites or applications.

Use Strong Passwords
1.Use a strong mnemonic pass phrase that is easy for you to remember that is without writing it down, but hard for others to guess. Try to remember a pass phrase that is a password created using various character types, which should also not be a word in the dictionary. Think of a sentence or a line from a song or poem that you like and create a password using the first letter from each word. For example, you can use 2 in place of ‘to,’ 4 in place of ‘for,’ and 0 in place of ‘o’, using an exclamation mark ! in place of ‘i’. Learn the key pattern used in the pass phrase for your password.
2. Mix different character types. You can make a password much more secure by mixing with a variety of different characters types. Make it a combination of upper case letters, lower case letters along with numbers, punctuation, and other symbols.
2. It should be at least eight characters long rather than a very short one.
3. Use a password that is quick to type, in case someone is peering over your shoulder in a public place but also not too weak.
5. Use very strong password in websites and applications that need extra security such as logging in banks, credit card companies etc.

Secure Your Passwords
1. Never write down passwords. Unfortunately, the most secure passwords are very hard to remember. If you must write it down, disguise it and keep it in a safe place.
2. Never share your password with anyone. Protect all passwords as you would you’re your credit card or your bank PIN number.
3. Never store passwords unencrypted on your computer. This is one of the means of getting your password stolen by hacking or online theft.
4. You should use a different password for each website or application that you are going to log in.
5. You should change your password at least every 30 to 60 days or so. Set an automatic reminder for yourself to change your passwords on your email, banking, and credit card websites about every three months.
6. Password management software can be used when managing a lot of passwords. These tools maintain a list of usernames and passwords in encrypted form. Some programs will automatically fill in the username and password information on sites and applications. Great care needs to be taken to protect access to your password database with a strong master password, access card, or USB key.
7. Beware of phishing scams that imitate an authorized website and ask for your password without you knowing that it is a fake one.
8. Never type your password when anyone is standing nearby.




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