Password security starts with your password strength. Ensure you read this important article.
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All us of know that the internet can be a nasty place, yet there still seems to be a high degree of complacency when it comes to very basic online security and password strength.

It is important that you be aware of the importance of password security, even more so these days. Passwords should be cryptic, they should contain a combination of upper and lower case characters (both numbers and letters and not use any dictionary words), and be no less than 8 characters in length - 9 being optimal.

Password Strength If your password is easy to remember for you, then very likely it will be just as easy to be hacked by someone intent on "getting in". Oh, and don't think that hackers just sit at their desks and manually type in passwords - the process is fully automated and effortless to them.

For example, in an article posted in Gizmodo on 08 February 2011, it has been determined that a six character password using numbers and alpha characters would only take 18 days to hack, but NINE characters using numeric and alpha characters would take a whopping 44,530 years to hack. This, of course, would be of an acceptable password strength!

By comparison, a nine character password which ONLY uses upper case OR lower case characters would only take 4 months to hack.

Email and website account hacking is becoming much more common, with dire flow-on effects which are very difficult to remedy.

Let's say for example that your website is joeybloggs.com, with a username of joey and a password of blogs. This scenario is very common, but it's a recipe for disaster. Just the other day someone told me he uses the same password on EVERY login, whether it be email, web server, Twitter, Facebook - EVERYTHING!

Now, if you think "who would want to hack into my mailbox or website anyway, I'm not that interesting", think again!

Not only can your mailbox contain a wealth of information about your own personal details, it can contain emails with account login details to other parts of the internet you frequent. This information can then be used to request password reminders elsewhere, your web server control panel login can be compromised next, then be used to hijack your domain registration, copy database content, be used to send phishing scams to your family and friends, and the list goes on and on.

The above can also be used for identity theft - even if you download all your email locally rather than storing any emails on the server (which you shouldn't really do anyway).

Your mailbox will often end up being used to send spam as well, and further compromise your online contacts.

The web hosting company I use, Quadra Hosting, takes steps immediately to stop spamming from happening, but an automated script which uses your mailbox to send out spam can send several hundred messages in a matter of minutes.





Other consequences may ensue, such as your email account being listed as a spam source, or even worse, your whole mailserver may be added to a blacklist, which in turn affects ALL clients on the server - making you unpopular with your website host as a result.

If your website is hacked, that presents a whole new world of opportunity for a hacker. Your site can be infected with Trojans, which may in turn infect anyone visiting your website with anything from back doors, to malware, to more malicious content.

There is another dire consequence to your website hacking too: your website may be flagged by Google as being a "bad neighbourhood", and you if don't fix it IN A HURRY, you may well lose a LOT of business because people will be met with a warning when clicking on a search engine result for your website.

Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome (web browsers) will get in on the act as well and warn people off too (such as the examples on this page). What do you think that would do for business? And if you continue to be a "bad neighbourhood", good luck getting your search engine results back anytime soon, and people retaining their links back to you.

All the above scenarios can be easily avoided by using cryptic passwords, and using the best anti-virus software you can (like NOD32 or Kaspersky). There are many password generators freely available on the internet, so picking a suitable cryptic password should not be hard.

We sincerely hope that you take this advice to heart for ALL passwords you are using on the internet!

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Rob - JustWeb

08.03.2011


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