By the ZoneAlarm Team
We’ve got new and interesting survey results which revealed that 79% of consumers use risky password construction practices, such as using personal information and common words. This is quite risky because the very first thing a hacker will do to break into a computer or secure account is try and guess the victim’s password. Automated programs are also available to repeatedly guess passwords from a database of common words or other information.
Additionally, the survey also revealed that:
- 26% of respondents reuse the same password for important accounts such as email, banking or shopping and social networking sites.
- 8% admit to copying an entire password found online in a listing of “good” passwords.
- 29% of respondents had their own email or social network account hacked.
- 52% of respondents know someone who had their email or social network account hacked.
- 22% of respondents experienced email hacking.
- 46% know of others who experienced email hacking.
- 22% of respondents experienced social network account hacking.
- 32% know others who experienced social network account hacking.
- 30% of the time stolen information can be used to access other sites that contain financial data such as bank account numbers and credit card information.
To ensure consumers stay safe online and enjoy this holiday season, here are a few tips for creating a strong password:
- Choose a password that is at least 8 to 10 characters long. This should be long enough to prevent brute force attacks. Since brute force attacks consist of trying every possible code, combination, or a password until the right one is found.
- Make sure your password is difficult for someone to guess. Do not use names of any kind, including your login name, family member’s name or a pet’s name. Also avoid using personal information such as a phone number, birthday or place of birth.
- Avoid words that can be found in the dictionary. With the availability of online dictionaries it is easy for someone to write a program to test all of the words until they find the right one.
- Stay away from repeated characters or easy to guess sequences. For example: 77777, 12345, or abcde.
- Choose a password that is a mixture of numbers, letter and special characters. The more complex and random it is the harder it will be for a malicious person to crack.
- Use fragments of words that will not be found in a dictionary. Break the word in half and put a special character in the middle.
- Choose different and unique passwords for all of the important sites. Otherwise, if one site is hacked, your information on all the other sites is also at risk.
- Change your passwords often. Even if someone cracks the system password file, the password they obtain is not likely to last long.
- Use a reliable password protection solution. ZoneAlarm offers Password Manager partner product available at: http://www.zonealarm.com/security/en-us/pc-computer-software-tools.htm. In addition, ZoneAlarm offers a variety of security solutions critical to protecting consumers against sophisticated online threats. More information can be found at www.zonealarm.com.
Stay safe and Happy Holidays!!!