Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Keeping your passwords safe is your job

By the Advocate Editorial Board
July 23, 2014 at 2:23 a.m.

Whether it's our credit or debit card information being compromised by people who hack through Target's firewalls or amateur hackers targeting popular computer games for electronic money, rest assured, there are people out there who have made it their job to find out your secret passwords.

While there is not much we can do about major corporations' ability to keep out hackers (unless we pay cash everywhere we go), we can do our best to keep our passwords secret. Not that long ago, people needed an online password for a few websites - personal email, work email, Facebook and maybe Photobucket.

With smartphones, however, people are doing more than just calling and texting; they are often performing business, checking bank balances and paying off credit cards - all from their fingertips in less than five minutes. This ease of speed can lead to a person taking less care in choosing a unique password for those accounts which could cause some damage to the wallet, among other areas of life.

Password protection is a hot-button topic among tech websites, and they offer several tips to developing a staunch defense to being password-hacked.

First, the password should be more mysterious than a family pet's name, wedding anniversary or the Dallas Cowboys. PC Magazine recommends avoiding the words, "God," "money," "love," "monkey," "letmein" and simply "password" as Internet passwords. While some websites have a barometer of strength, not all of them will be that helpful when you're faced with creating yet another new password.

Some quick ways to develop a strong password are mixing in capital letters with lowercase letters, adding in random numbers and a special character. Have a favorite song lyric? Break the song down by words and make an acronym, i.e. "The stars at night are big and bright" becomes "tsanabab."

Remembering the passwords to all of our accounts can be a challenge, but there is a solution for that. Password management websites and apps come in handy - especially since one only has to remember one password and then has access to all of their accounts.

Password protection affects everyone, and though we may not be able to secure every area of our personal information, it's our responsibility to do what we can to protect what's within our power.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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