More and more people are having their Facebook, or Email account hacked recently. I use a few weak passwords myself, but I know many people who use pathetically weak passwords and I think it is well past time to strongly encourage everyone to strengthen their passwords.

“Why,” you say, “would anyone want to get into my email?” Well, it’s not for the latest political rant, the reward for helping a Nigerian Man collect his family fortune or a new place to buy pharmaceuticals. Access to your email means access to your personal information, gives a spammer the ability to send spam to all of your contacts, and often people store personal passwords for banking or other personal information in their email and or contacts.

Many Facebook accounts are hacked via email accounts. Imagine all the sites you have passwords for that can be reset by verifying your email address. Now, imagine someone else had access to your email account. Yeah! I am worried too.

I think we have often thought that using strong passwords was for banking, but email is probably even more important because of the wide range of personal information that can be stolen with this one password. I think it is well past time that we use strong passwords for all of our accounts. And have different passwords for every account. I know it might be less convenient, but how inconvenient would it be to have your personal identity stolen?

The making of a strong password.

A strong password should meet ALL of the following criteria.

  • It should not a word in the dictionary
  • Not include dictionary words
  • Be no less than 8 characters (longer the better)
  • Use both letters and numbers
  • Use both lowercase and uppercase letters
  • Use one or more special characters (e.g. %, $, @, etc…)

Here is an article from Microsoft that I think is pretty comprehensive and includes a link to a password strength checker.

Keep in mind that the strength checker does not check for the use of dictionary words or common misspellings which are a no-no for strong passwords. Even replacement numbers instead of letters as in “pa55w0rd” are not secure but will register as BEST on the Microsoft strength meter. So use the good advice provided in the article and the strength meter together.

Please don’t wait for one of your accounts to get hacked before you begin. And keep your computer secure always by regularly scanning for viruses and spyware.

*The content that has the strikethrough is no longer available on the Microsoft Website. I recommend LastPass Password Security Checker.

 

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