Passwords – Tips for NOT Getting Hacked

(Ping! Zine) – Identity theft is one of the lurking threats that always seem to damage other people. There have even been movies made about people who have had their identity erased or stolen, and their attempts to regain and repair their identities and reputations. However, identity theft is very real and much more common than you may think. It goes further than complete hijacking. That would be easy to notice. There are ways to hack into your accounts with just a few identity tools, and siphon off your assets subtly so that you may not even notice. You can even go online and find tools – FREE – for hacking into people’s accounts. They are programs designed to crack passwords. Here are some ways to protect your passwords and, thereby, your identity online.

Common Passwords

With just a little surfing, aided by hacking software that is programmed to find you on the internet, the hacker can discover your name, address, birthdate, and your children and their birthdates. The hacker’s software can even find out your pet’s names. Do you have a veterinarian? Your pet’s names are in the vet’s system. Information about where you went to college, what sport you played, where you live, and a wealth of other information.

So, if your passwords are any combination of these, the software available to hackers can spin through all of the possibilities and combinations in seconds, hacking into your email or web hosting account.

Even your social security number is not safe. Think of how many times you are asked for the “last 4 of your social” when inquiring about your utilities bills.

Other common passwords are “letmein” (let me in), “money”, “god”, “password”, and “love”. And your numbers may be sequenced: 123, 1234, or 12345678, if the password requires 8 digits.

Do you see yourself in any of these? Then you would be easy to hack. The hackers won’t start off with really secure sites, such as your bank. They’ll get into an online forum or a shopping site, and set their software to crack XX-1000’s of usernames/passwords combinations as fast as they can. And, chances are, you use the same passwords for more than one account.

Don’t worry. All of your banking information and your login IDs are safely stored on your browser. Did you know that? The hackers do. If you have a password of 6 characters, using only lowercase letters, the hackers’ software can crack your password in just over 2 hours. And, that’s if the 6 characters don’t spell any words or names. I know it is very scary!

Tips to Protect Your Passwords

Here are some ideas for protecting your password.

•    One of the best ways to protect your password is to throw in a couple of random items. These can include an uppercase letter, a number, or a punctuation mark. In an 8 character password, this will move the time it takes to crack your password from 2.5 days to 2.5 CENTURIES.

•    Don’t ever use a person’s name for your password. All the names of your family members and pets are on file somewhere. If you must use a word, choose a random one out of the dictionary, and mix it up with upper case and punctuation.

•    Remember that once your username and password are hacked, the hacker can get into every account that is anything similar to that combination. You really do need a different password for every account.

•    You can make your password more secure by substituting a number for a letter. The number 3 is used for “e”, and @ for “a”. You can also use the number zero for “o”. However, this should still be used in combination with uppercase and punctuation.

•    There are sites online in which you can store your passwords and usernames. They are encrypted, and you can log onto your websites using their automated software, providing protection to your information. Better yet, write your usernames and passwords down on a piece of paper and store it in a safe place around the house.

Hack-proof Password Example

Here is an example of a common password: crazycatlady. Now, let’s dress it up a little bit to make it harder for hacker software to recognize. You don’t want to use an @ for every “a”, because that’s predictable (and a little too cute). So, choose just one “a”: [email protected]

Now, throw in an uppercase letter: [email protected] Yes, your password just got a thousand times more difficult to type, but it’s a million time safer. Solidify your password with punctuation: [email protected]{, and you have a password that will take centuries to crack.

Further Prevention Tactics

You should know that a real web site NEVER initiates contact with you asking for your password. One of the guises the hacker will use is to tell you that your account has accidentally been deleted. This just doesn’t happen. You may also receive notice that the site ran out of space in their database. Seriously? No, this doesn’t happen, either. Your web hosting provider will NEVER tell you this! You’ll find that the sites you visit have a button labeled “Report Abuse or Spam”. This is where you tell your website that someone is attempting to contact you, and ask if they need information from you. Please report this because you are doing everyone a favor.

Your email may be absolutely the most vital key to your cyber-safety. If hackers get into your email, they can go anywhere in your accounts.

Clear your browser history. A hacker who gets access to your computer can enter your browser cache and pose as you on the internet. This will include cookies, browser history, and auto-complete information that is stored on your browser. That’s just the beginning, so clean up your browser history to protect it from hackers.

Keep your computer protected. You should have an anti-spyware program running constantly on your computer, especially if you spend a lot of time on the internet. For instance, while researching this article, I had a malware warning from my virus protection. The malware was blocked, and I continued working with no hacker interference. The best thing about it is that this virus protection is free.

So, protect your computer, protect your information, and protect your identity. With a few extra key clicks, you can keep your accounts hidden from even powerful hacking software.

By: Garen Arnold