HACKERS AND PASSWORDS: TIPS FOR SENIORS

Dec 3rd, 2012 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

Choose Hacker-Proof Passwords

More seniors are using the Internet today than ever before. And for all kinds of reasons.  Some of us just like staying in touch with our adult children and grandchildren on email and Skype or another instant messaging software.  And others enjoy the ability to manage finances on bank and investment websites.  Still others blog and manage their own websites around special interests they enjoy.

One of the issues we all face, no matter how much we use the Internet, is how to protect our signon passwords when we enter a secure site or page that no one else should be able to open. We fall into a false sense of security when we signon, thinking that we are safe on the page because we have a unique signon and secure password that no one else knows.

Wrong.

Signons are easy to detect and should never be considered secure; that is, we should always believe our signon names can be easily determined by a hacker.  And we also need to take a look at how we create passwords.  And how we should change passwords regularly to keep our personal information secure.

Tips for Creating Better Passwords

Here’s what the experts say about passwords:

  • Forget the dictionary; do NOT use any word(s) that can be found in the dictionary.  Period.
  • Don’t use the same password twice; use different passwords for each site, and keep a record of the passwords near your computer so they are easily retrieved; do NOT store passwords on your computer.

The Best Passwords

The best passwords are phrases, more than 14 characters in length.  For example, a pass-phrase might be something like MyPa$sw0rdiZluKKy2Bme. You can figure out what the phrase says (“My password is lucky to be me”), but using distinct characters in place of the letters makes it unique and not easily discoverable.

The other option you have, that keeps hackers at bay, is to just jam on your computer keyboard. For example this is jamming…  aldkeiWE23098798-432X.,EWieslf.  Copy and paste that string on a detachable USB drive, and then make it available by plugging it in to your computer when you use it.  Simply remove the USB drive when you leave your computer.  It cannot be detected if it’s not plugged in.

By the way, you know those security questions… Devise a way to answer them incorrectly, with responses only you know.  My mother’s maiden name or my high school is easy for hackers to figure out.  If you devise your own unique response, it’s less likely a hacker will be able to steal from you and your anxiety about using the Internet can be diminished.



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