PC Doctor May 23, 2014

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Dear PC Doctor:

With the recent Heartbleed virus, all of my friends are talking about internet security and passwords.  How important is it to have a complicated password?  Do I need to change my passwords?


Dear Marcia:

Thanks to advances in password-cracking software and faster computer hardware, passwords are much less secure than they were a few years ago.  They can try more than a billion combinations per second!

Passwords with common patterns (such as words spelled backwards, using the number 3 in place of the letter ‘E’, etcetera) are especially easy for hackers to uncover.

To make your passwords safer, you really want to mix it up. When asked to include a capital letter, don’t make it the first letter. When required to include a number, do something other than placing a numeral 1 at the end.  The software can crack those right away!

Avoid using a regular single word (i.e.: baseball). Do use a mix of character types letters, numbers, symbols, spaces). A longer password is typically safer than a short one.  Also, never pick a password with a logical pattern, like ‘12345’ or ‘abcde.’

Here’s a rule you’re not going to like: Use a different password for each site.  This way, if one gets compromised, your other sites may still be safe.  I know this means memorizing a whole roster of passwords, which can be a pain.  Think of it as good for your brain!

Remember, If you use the same password for everything, and someone gets a hold of your Facebook password, they have your password for every site you visit. If you have a different password for every site, they only have access to the one account—so at least all your other accounts might be safe.

Until next time…Happy Computing!

      PC Doctor