Best Practices for Passwords

The Internet and computer networks may facilitate personal and business communication as never before, but it also gives hackers unprecedented access to private computers and computer networks.
 
That's why password security is so important. Those who don't take it seriously run the risk of having sensitive or valuable data stolen.  Hackers can be ingenious in targeting personal passwords to gain access to restricted information. They use special password cracking programs, many of which are freely available over the Internet and can be run
remotely.
 
The more difficult a password is to guess, the more secure it will be. For example, if a user chooses a one-character password that can be any upper- or lower-case letter or a digit, there are 62 possibilities.  A cracking program can guess it very quickly.  Meanwhile, the same 62 characters can be used to form 218 trillion eight-digit passwords.  Unfortunately, users generally put the odds in the cracker's favor by choosing easily-guessed  combinations.

TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR PASSWORD SECURE

  • Use as many characters as possible (minimum six).
  • Include upper- and lower-case letters.
  • Include digits and punctuation marks.
  • Don't use personal information, such as names or birthdays.
  • Don't use words from a dictionary.

TECHNIQUES FOR CREATING EFFECTIVE PASSWORDS

  • Use a vanity license plate, for example: "GR8way2B."
  • Use several small words with punctuation marks: "betty,boop$car."
  • Put punctuation in the middle of a word: "Roos%velt."
  • Use an unusual way of contracting a word: "ppcrnbll."
  • Use the first letter of each word in a phrase, with a random number: "hard to crack this password" becomes "htc5tp."
No matter how strong a password is it can be guessed eventually. So passwords should be changed regularly.
 
Additionally, users must never share their passwords, use the same password twice, or write it down in an obvious place.
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