Passwords – we all hate having to deal with them. After all, we’re supposed to have different passwords for every website. Plus, they must be complicated. How in the world can we create all of these passwords and still remember them? Instead, it’s easy to just use ABC123 or Password or some other generic phrase. The problem is that those among us with less than stellar motives can easily hack those passwords and access all of our confidential information.
If that weren’t enough, now the government is reminding us. I read an advertisement today for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – you know, the agency that reminds us of terrorist dangers using color coded warnings that none of us remembers. Well, this ad, entitled “Are you Exposing Yourself?” was actually helpful and reminds readers to “STOP other people from accessing your information by using strong passwords. THINK before you download apps you aren’t familiar with. CONNECT with friends safely online by checking your privacy settings regularly.” And it even links to a helpful website at www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect, a website intended to increase the understanding of cyber threats, with the goal of empowering the American public to be safer and more secure online. The site has helpful tips and other resources.
After I discovered StopThinkConnect, I received an email about iD Magazine (there’s one you probably haven’t read), which highlights “The Secret Truth about Passwords” in its August 2016 issue. The magazine explains that modern computer algorithms can try out millions of passwords in seconds, which is why large password databases fall into the clutches of hackers. It notes that the most used password in the world is 123456, and reminds readers that even the head of the CIA, John Brennan, had his hacked in 2015. The magazine reminds us all (1) not to recycle passwords, (2) to use the initials of a memorable sentence or try putting four random words together when creating passwords. I access the magazine through Texture , an app that lets you read tons of magazines (weeklies and monthlies) for a reasonable fee.
Of course, we all need to be secure online. I use a password manager, RoboForm, which stores my passwords, generates random passwords and synchronizes them securely across all of my computers and portable devices. While it’s easy to keep using 123456 as a password, it’s better to be safe and avoid the grief that you’ll have when you get hacked.