Recently some major password database leaks have been making headlines all over the internet.
Last.fm the social music website, LinkedIn a professional social networking website, and eHarmony a well known dating website have all been victims of a recent cyber-crime spree of database break-ins. LinkedIn in particular is reporting that more than 8 million passwords may have been compromised.
Your passwords are essentially a digital fingerprint that could potentially lead to far greater security risks than most people realize. Someone for instance, with access to your linked in account, can have enough personal and professional information at their disposal to order credit cards in your name, use your identity to commit fraud, and many other nefarious things.
One of the most surprising and worrying things about these break ins however is not just the data that has been compromised; but also what passwords people have been using.
In an era where more and more of our lives are deposited online and tight security is needed to safeguard our identities, lives, and even children; passwords need to be at the very least difficult to guess. But thanks to the password leak, we’re now finding out people are still using passwords that are both extraordinarily dangerous, and easy to guess.
Passwords for LinkedIn, as an example, that were used often for many users were “12345”, “linkedinpassword” “iwantanewjob” and others according to an article from Ars Technica.
Why are they dangerous? Even if you don’t keep anything more than your email address and name on these website, that is more than enough for scam artists and fraud specialists to begin worming their way into your digital life using social engineering and basic psychology. The weakest link in any security system is the humans that control it, and with a convincing enough story and enough background information, any system can be breached.
So in light of this new information, we would like to offer some tips on how to keep your online life secure.
- Use a different password for each account.This way if a password database gets leaked on the internet you only have to change 1 password.
- Use a long password. The longer the password the longer it will take for someone to crack your password.
- Use lower case and upper case letter, symbols and numbers. It is much harder from someone to crack a password that is not just text. If a 2 character password only has letters that means there is only 676 different possibilities for your password to be but if you have a password with a number in it then there is 1296 different possibilities.
- Make sure you have a way to reset your password. If your like me your going to have to remember many different password, so it is likely that you will forget one sooner or later. Ensuring you have a way to reset your password will ensure that you will always have access to your account.
For even more information, Google has a good article about picking strong passwords. You can read it at http://www.google.com/goodtoknow/online-safety/passwords/