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May 3, 2011

Password Protection

Just like you want a good lock to protect your home and valuables from unwanted intruders, you want a good password to protect your financial and other personal data from prying eyes both online and offline. A good strong password will allow you safer online transactions.

A few years ago, a computer professional using the name of John P. wrote how quickly he could crack a password based upon the password length and types of characters used while on a computer. For 3 characters it was 0.86 seconds using all types of characters (uppercase, lowercase, numbers, characters) and .02 seconds using only lowercase characters in your password.  For 8 characters the times were 2.10 centuries and 2.42 days respectively. The assumption is that you were not using a word in the dictionary. Going from 8 to 9 characters increased the time to 20 millennia and 2.07 months respectively.

That said, certain websites financial websites in particular have a protocol that must be followed when setting up a password on their site.

A good password includes upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols and has a minimum of 8 characters. There are password checkers out there to check the strength of your password.  A good one is  

“Whisper32” is a freeware password manager program to download.  You can store passwords on it.  You need to have a password to open your saved file.  Click to open Whisper32 download.

You also should NEVER use the following as passwords as they will make it easier to crack your password:

a.      Your name & other personal information like birthday, spouse’s name, SS#, etc
b.      Sites name
c.       “Password”
d.      Dictionary words in any language
e.      Sequences or related characters – 123456, abcdef, 222222

While we are on the subject of passwords, it is easy and convenient to enable the option to remember passwords.  This will enable anyone using the computer being used to log into the site without knowing your password.  Especially when using a laptop, you should disable this option whenever it is given.  It is another layer in staying secure. Needless to say always disable when you are on a public computer.  Also when you are on a public computer, before you leave and you are still using the web browser remember to delete all browsing history, cookies, etc.  In Internet Explorer 8 select the Tools option from the menu.  Then select "Internet Options" and then "Browsing History". Select "Delete" to delete. 

By following the above, you will make your internet browsing much safer and secure from hackers and intruders.