Handle passwords carefully and hackers go elsewhere

By RACHEL JANOSEC

Cybersecurity is prevalent more then ever, especially since technology basically runs our lives. Journalists depend on their e-mail, websites and blog sites to get their work done and must keep all their passwords safe or their work could be as good as gone. Hackers make it very easy to steal personal data that may never be retrieved.

Hackers regularly exploit tools like John the Ripper, a free password-cracking program that uses lists of commonly used passwords from sites and can test millions of passwords per second. Hackers attack companies’ computers systems everyday looking to for passwords to sell on black market sites for $20. This shows how easily a journalist’s websites and e-mail can be hacked.

There are several steps that can maximize the security of passwords that all should consider. The first word of advice when creating or remaking a password is to forget the dictionary, in other words, if your password can be found in the dictionary then you might as well not have it.

The second step is to never use the same password twice.  Most people think to use the same password for everything so it is easier to remember, but this makes it easier for hackers to crack into another personal account once they have hacked into the first.

Next, for password security one should come up with a passphrase.  The longer the password the better and the harder it is to get hacked.   A password should ideally be 14 characters in length or more. But since longer passwords are harder to remember, a passphrase can be created to help string together the first one or two letters of each word in the sentence.

One should also store their passwords securely. Do not store them on your desktop or inbox.  It is a good idea to save them on a personal USB drive or just a simple piece of paper so they are off the Internet completely.

Lastly, ignoring the security questions will help keep your passwords safe.  Hackers use the information in the questions to reset your password code and take over your account.

These steps are important and crucial but do take effort.

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