10.28.2014Personal Tech

Passwords Shouldn't Be Pets

I love my wife, my dog and – for better or worse this year – the Pittsburgh Steelers.  But I don’t show them the love when I sign on to email, my work network or Twitter.

Familiar names such as those of your family, pets or favorite sports teams make bad passwords. They’re predictable, and a good phisher or hacker could use them to steal your password and put your financial and other records at risk.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and a good time to review the good and bad about passwords.  Let’s start with the good:

  • Complexity matters. Lengthier passwords are harder to crack. Many sites set minimum and maximum limits on password characters. Select a longer password.
  • Random acts. Make your passwords unique and unpredictable.
  • Symbols. Sprinkle in symbols with uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers when composing your password.

Now for the bad. Here are several don'ts:

  • Don't under any circumstances use passwords like “abcde,” “11111,” “admin,” “12345” or (my favorite bad example) “password.”
  • Don't use your user name, company name or email as your password.
  • Don't use the same password for multiple accounts. If a phisher or hacker is able obtain your password, the intruder then could gain access to many of your accounts.

Several handy articles or websites from Microsoft, InfoWorld and Coolmomtech provide tips on creating strong passwords that will serve you well and keep the hackers at bay.  

More information and online security tips may also be found at the Verizon customer support site or on Verizon’s Security Alerts page.