Are Your Passwords Safe?

If you’re like me, you subscribe to a number of listservs, a number of social networking sites, professional sites, and then everything you might have a username and password for your personal activities. That means a lot a passwords and most likely your email address as your password. Michael Moyer published a short article in the 6/23/2011 Scientific American Observations blog called “How to know if hackers have stolen your password”. Surprisingly a large majority of people don’t have complicated passwords. In fact, Michael says that:

This is something we’re very bad at. A recent report found that more than 75 percent of users use the same password for social networking sites and email—a huge risk in case one of those sites falls victim to nefarious figures.

To help keep your passwords and information safe, there are some quick tips. Change passwords frequently. Use numbers, letters, and other symbols if possible. Use different passwords for each site. There are some applications out there that can help with generating unique passwords and saving passwords. For MAC, there is Keychain. For PCs, there are a number of password managers like password safe. In addition to this, Michael provides a link to a tool reported on by the New York Times called “Should I change my password”. Created by a security profession, it checks about 13 or so databases when you enter your email address(es) to see if your password(s) have been compromised. This is definitely something to keep in mind.

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