DAILY DOT COM - Recently, the Walton County Sheriff's Office has received numerous reports of email addresses being "hacked". The WCSO advises citizens of tips they can follow make themselves safer in a world that is trending towards "cyber crime".
As computers advance in processing power, it is necessary for our passwords to advance as well. Most people pick a password that is less than 8 characters long (example: puppy001) that can be cracked in 3 hours using a standard desktop computer. To successfully pick a strong password, experts say, follow this simple procedure:
1. Look around and pick three items in your vicinity. Example: A tree, a book, and a dog are within sight. The password you would have is: treebookdog (Cracking time: 169 days!)
2. For good measure you should always capitalize one letter of your password and include a number somewhere. Now your password is: Treebookdog1 (Cracking time: 408,000 years!)
3. Add a special character (example: any punctuation) for bonus points. Now your password is: Treebookdog1! This password has an estimated cracking time of 423 million years!
The WCSO now suggests that you pick a very strong password and write it down for storage in a secure area. People have been taught to never write down the myriad of passwords that websites require you to create. Because computers have advanced rapidly, many password rules have been turned upside down. Under a keyboard or taped to a monitor is not a secure area! Most IT professionals use some sort of reputable password management software to keep all their passwords secure with a single master password.
The single most important rule to follow is to only use a password once. Do not use the same password for Facebook, your bank account, and your email account! This will limit your exposure if hackers crack one of your passwords. It is strongly advised against letting Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Google Chrome remember your passwords. When your computer is infected with a virus, those locations are one of the first places hackers look for passwords. A rogue family member, friend, or hacker can use the stored passwords to gain access to sensitive information or post something as you on social media sites.
Access to your email account is a treasure trove of information for hackers. As with the case of several high profile celebrities, posting personal information online allows hackers to easily guess your security questions and reset your email password. One notable example would be Sara Palin. The hacker admitted later to using information from various internet searches to guess her security questions and reset her Yahoo Mail password.
Once a hacker has access to your email they can easily request a password reset to many popular websites that will send the request, unknowingly, to your compromised email account. To manage to numerous security questions (and password) for each site, it is recommended that you use a reputable password management application. Many of the reputable applications have phone apps available that will sync with your desktop computer.
You can try passwords to see how secure they are at: http://howsecureismypassword.net/
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