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Short and dumb passwords a hackers delight

By Dian Vujovich

Anyone who happens to believe that changing passwords often on their numerous online accounts is enough to keep nasty hackers from getting at their digital data would be wise to think again. For openers, a lot of people don’t even like creating passwords let alone changing them often. Plus, short, simple and goofy passwords are like mana for professional hackers.

According to one report, 38 percent of online users don’t like choosing passwords. In fact, a 2012 Online Registration and Password study conducted by Janrain.com revealed that users would rather clean their toilets than create another username and password. Oh dear.

While not really surprising, that news is unfortunate because usernames and passwords hold the keys to almost everything we do online — from shopping, sending emails and posting updates on Facebook, to paying bills, investing, etc. etc. etc.

So even though we take the time to research and purchase thousands of dollars worth of digital stuff, it seems we’re not very bright when it comes to choosing and using passwords.

iTickr.com, a tracking identity company, found that the average online user has 25 accounts and uses about six different passwords. And, that most people keep the same password on an account for an average of 31 months.

Listen to the pros who have our online safety in mind and you’ll learn it’s best if we don’t use the same passwords on multiply accounts.

Compounding security issues is we’re not very clever when choosing passwords. Sadly, the most commonly used password is “password1.” Really.

In case you’ve forgotten, the problem with simple passwords is that they are easy prey for hackers, who collect the bounty of names and resources gleaned from an email list to use themselves or sell on the black market.

It only takes minutes for professional hackers to make their way into password-protected accounts. To make that task a little more difficult, consider using online password management accounts or following James Lamm’s lead.

Lamm is an estate-planning attorney and blog editor of Digitalpassing.com. All of his passwords contain a combination of at least 14 characters.

Read about the ways to keep your digital information managed and safe in a story I wrote, “Digital assets: Another reason to see your estate attorney”, at: www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/business/digital-assets-another-reason-to-see-your-estate-p/njHYB/.

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

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