Google: Five Fixes For Five Password Security Problems

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Google: Five Fixes For Five Password Security Problems

by Clint Boulton

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Problem 1: Reusing Passwords Across Websites

Most people who live online do their e-mail, banking and shopping there, requiring them to enter passwords for several Websites. Unfortunately, too many people make themselves vulnerable by using the same passwords for every Website. If a hacker guesses the password, they get the proverbial keys to your kingdom.

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Solution 1: Use Unique Passwords

Google recommends using different passwords for all of your accounts, especially for e-mail and online banking. Google recommends making some letters uppercase and swapping out some letters with numbers or symbols.As an example, the phrase for your banking Website could be "How much money do I have?" and the password could be "#m$d1H4ve?" (Note: Since we're using them here, please don't adopt any of the example passwords in this post for yourself.)

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Problem 2: Using Common Passwords

People like to make passwords they can remember. Unfortunately, easy recall can equal easy pickings for an enterprising malcontent. Far too often people use passwords such as "password" or "letmein," keyboard patterns, or sequential patterns. Too obvious = too stupid.

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Solution 2: Mix It Up!

Look at all of those options on your keyboard, especially the ones available when you hit shift. Use mixed-case letters, numbers and symbols to create your passwords, making it nearly impossible for perpetrators to guess your password.

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Problem 3: No Names, Not Even Your Dogs

On the easy recall factor, it's tempting to use the names of family, a significant other, a spouse, children or pets as passwords. Don't, because a hacker will try those names first, and then birth dates, phone numbers and addresses.

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Solution 3: Hard Password = Hard Luck Hacker

Choose letters, numbers or symbols to create a unique password that doesn't rely on, hint at or point to your personal information. Or, select a random word or phrase, and insert letters and numbers into the beginning, middle and end to make it extra difficult to guess (such as "[email protected]").

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Problem 4: What Are You Writing?

We've all done this at some point in our PC learning curve: written down our password and stuck it to our desktop on a sticky note. This is beyond bad, especially if you do it at work.

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Solution 4: Hide Them

Don't leave notes with your passwords to Websites on your computer or desk because people can easily steal this information. It's been done in offices before. A lot. Better yet, don't write them down at all. If you're the type to save your passwords in a file on your computer, create a unique name for the file so people don't know what's inside.

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Problem 5: Recall

Forget your password? Any Website worth its salt will e-mail you a link to reset your password, or better yet, ask you a security question only you know the answer to.

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Solution 5: Up-to-date Password Recovery

To prepare for forgotten or lost passwords, always keep an up-to-date e-mail address on file for your Website accounts to ensure that password reset e-mails go to the right place.