Better Passwords, Better Safety

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Connecticut (WTNH) – The Connecticut Better Business Bureau is pushing for consumers to make sure their passwords aren’t easy for a thief to guess. The more complicated they are, the more secure your account could be.

“Passwords are required for just about everything we do online,” according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz. This includes accessing our bank and credit card accounts, medical records, shopping, utilities, social media and more. Unfortunately, many consumers use weak passwords or the same password for multiple sites.”

In what has become an annual event, experts have released the worst passwords for 2015. The list has not changed much since experts began tracking this information, listed below in descending order:

5. 12345
4. qwerty
3. 12345678
2. password
1. 123456

A strong password should have a minimum of 8 characters, including upper and lower case letters and digits, as well as a special character such as a dollar sign or exclamation point. Robust passwords should not include pet names, names of songs, books, movies, or any other information you post on your social media. If remembering several, different passwords is too much of a chore, you can download free password-management software.

Stronger Protection
A growing number of websites offer “Two-Factor Authentication” (2FA). In addition to a username and password, 2FA requires an additional piece of information – usually a string of numerals – to complete your login. These may be texted to you, emailed, generated in a telephone call or through a free authentication app.

A two-step verification numeral is required each time you log on from a different device. Unless a hacker has your smart device, computer or phone number, you will have an extra layer of protection against credit card fraud and identity theft.

Connecticut BBB has tips to help you create and protect your passwords:

Don’t use dictionary words – If it’s in the dictionary, there is a chance someone will guess it. There’s even software that criminals use that can guess words used in dictionaries.

Put in a little extra – If you have a five-character password, adding a random special character will make your passphrase about a thousand time more difficult to crack. The longer the password, the harder it is for criminals trying to hack into your computer.

Avoid entering a password in public – Public, meaning at a library or internet café. The same warning if you use a public Wi-Fi connection. Hackers can use these to get into your smart device or laptop.

Unique account, unique password
– Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cyber criminals.

Write it down and keep it safe – Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list stored in a secure place away from your computer. You can alternatively use a service like a password manager to keep track of your passwords stored away from your computer.

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