Passwords and Hacking (Part 1)
How many accounts do you have – one, five, ten, twenty or more? There are accounts for email, online banking, games, shopping, retirement, entertainment, Facebook, work, networking, blogging, and others. Many of these categories have multiple accounts. You know that you should use complex passwords, but complex passwords are hard to remember so you reuse the same password for many of these accounts. You are not alone.
Reusing passwords is not a good idea, especially for those sites that have significantly different levels of security. While it may be difficult to hack into your bank account, getting into a free gaming site may be easy. If you use the same password for both, you now put your bank account at risk.
What to do. You need to create many complex passwords. It is hard enough coming up with one password that you can remember AND that is complex. You know you shouldn’t write down the passwords; but if you forget it, it is not easy to recover.
There have been a number of recent articles and news reports (e.g., http://money.msn.com/identity-theft/how-i-would-hack-your-passwords.aspx and http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/07/08/137699123/as-u-k-s-hackin...) about the ease of guessing someone’s password.
There are some solutions. If you are primarily (or exclusively) on a single computer you can install a password manager program. These programs save your passwords in an encrypted file. They will generate a random password and tell you how complex your password is (random or otherwise). Many of these programs run on different operating systems (Windows, Macintosh, and Linux). There are programs you can purchase and others that are open source.
Next time: Desktop-based password manager