Stop Using 1234: Easy Ways to Bolster Your Online Passwords Today

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Smart and savvy? Or dumb and ill-advised? It’s time to be honest with yourself: just where do you fall on the password-protection spectrum?

As we all know — in the wake of hacks at Sony, PlayStation, and so many other large companies — not a single day passes without some major password-hacking incident becoming public.

There are several ways to be more password-savvy and better protect yourself online. First, try to make your passwords as long as possible — they shouldn’t be regular words or first names. Second, don’t ever use “1234” as your password. Third, and it should go without saying, definitely do not ever use the word “password” as your password.

Many people even use the same password for multiple sites, making it much easier for hackers to access several websites for the same person. For example, researchers from the Security Group at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory conducted a study on two hacked websites that also had their password hashes stolen.

The two sites appeared to have a lot of overlapping customers and shared email addresses, and the Cambridge study discovered that, of the passwords that were cracked, 76% of people used the same password on both sites.

Before you get hacked, spend a few minutes watching this video from the Wall Street Journal. Then carve out ten minutes to update all your passwords for your email accounts, online banking sites, photo-sharing sites, and social-media accounts.

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Elaine Rigoli

Elaine Rigoli is PRIVATE WiFi’s manager of digital content strategy.