I write this in the wake of additional recent revelations regarding the federal government attempting to get everyone’s password from various internet companies. Thankfully, they have been successfully rebuffed, but the article made a strong point on how easy it is to crack MOST people’s passwords. At a recent password security conference last December, a custom built computer didn’t “just crack passwords; it literally obliterates them. The system can crunch through 348 billion NT LAN Manager (NTLM) password hashes every second. In the real world, this translates into being able to break a 14 character Windows XP password in six minutes.“ Please note that was a 14 character password. Most people use 6-8 characters.
The one tip that I do want to emphasize is that you really should NOT use the same password in more than one location. Each program that you need to access should have its own unique password. This is a vital point. If someone were to hack Twitter’s account database, and they get your password that you use everywhere, now the hackers have access to your entire digital life. This includes your bank, Facebook, work, etc. And if you have a password that needs to be changed every 30-90 days, keeping track of them is a challenge.
So what is the average computer person like us supposed to do to protect our passwords that protect our digital life? Instead of just recapping all the traditional rules (click here to read them) that everyone usually writes about, I am just going to go straight to the easy solution. Get a password management program. Check out the most recent review of the top ten programs here. After researching a lot of the programs out there, it was easy for me to choose Roboform. So much so that I became an affiliate partner.
I want to focus on the password generation feature. In the Advanced Settings area, you can set the number of characters to use in your password. You can also decide to used capitals, lowercase, numbers, and special characters. In fact, you can even decide what special characters can be used. This is important as some programs do not allow some special characters in the password. And a bonus feature is it states your bit strength at the bottom.
There are plenty of other features that you can read about on their site. Whatever program you end up choosing, you need to choose something and start diversifying your passwords. And then after you fix your passwords, share this posting with your friends and protect their digital life too!
YouTube Video: Password Security: Now More Important Than Ever
Bonus: Check out how strong your password is here and then change it to a stronger one. HowSecureIsMyPassword.net/