Monday, October 11, 2010

Cybersecurity: Protecting yourself: PASSWORDS

Many programs, sites and systems that require passwords suggest that the use of strong passwords can help Internet users fight the various attack/hack methods.

Here are some tips on dealing with passwords:

USE a different password for each of your accounts. Though it is easier to keep track of one or two passwords, its also easier for hackers or identity thieves to discover one password and have access to more of your accounts.

MAKE your passwords strong. According to a Microsoft spokesperson, each character you add to your password increases the protection it affords many times over.

Passwords are case-sensitive and have different characters limits. A strong password should adhere to the following tips:
• Should never consist of the user name.
• Should be minimum of eight characters long.
• Should include both lower case and uppercase alphabets (minimum one from each group is suggested).
• Should consist of minimum one number (0 to 9).
• Should consist of at least one symbol. (i.e.: *, $, #)

The password created must be easier to remember but difficult for anybody to guess. Substituting numbers or symbols for alphabets can be used to satisfy the above criteria for a strong password. For example ‘a’ in password can be substituted with ‘@’, similarly ‘i’ can be replaced with ‘!’.

*After creating your password, you can test its strength with one of the "password checkers" available online such as The Password Meter.

• Using personal information such as family names, birthdays, or your
• Using sequences or repeated numbers, like abcd, 12345 or 9999.
• Using personal information, such as birthdays, family names and addresses.
• Using sequences or repeated numbers, like abcd, 12345 or 9999.
• Revealing your passwords to family and friends; children, particularly, may unwittingly pass them on to others.
• Typing passwords into public computers, such as those at libraries or in hotel lobbies. Even if you instruct the computer not to save the password, there could be malicious software on the computer that records your keystrokes for a criminal's use.

CHANGE your passwords frequently. It is a good practice if password is changed periodically, such as monthly or quarterly.

MONITOR all the information you protect with that password, such as online shopping accounts or investment accounts, and request free copies of your credit reports from the national credit

Experian; 888-397-3742
Equifax; 800-685-1111
TransUnion; 800-888-4213

If you see suspicious activity, notify the authorities and contact your credit union for help. If you're a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission's website includes information about what steps to take.

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