Easy and fast protection on the Internet

Historic City News passwords and logins are changed every week; some more frequently than that, however, for whatever extra effort that entails, the added protection against hacking attempts is worth more than any insurance policy.

But, no matter how often you change passwords on the maze of online bill payments, bank accounts, shopping websites and your computing devices themselves, the type of password you choose can make the difference between a disaster and a good night’s sleep.

Hackers were once a rare breed whose reward often was “bragging rights” in their ability to crack a piece of security code but not anymore. With the exponential growth of the Internet and increased use of mobile computing devices, which are reported to have outsold personal computers for the first time, the criminals around the globe are frequently using technology for their own financial gain.

It doesn’t take a lot to break a password for most small business and personal accounts unless you systematically use passwords that include letters, numbers, symbols and both upper and lowercase letters. Although you may think no one knows your computer password, you’d be surprised how many people have made it too easy to decipher. Aside from the obvious use of terms like “password” and “123abc” or the name of the user’s pet, you have to realize that writing down your password, even a changing one, is no good if you write it on a post-it note stuck to your monitor.

You may also be surprised at the deterrent power of minor changes in how you create your computer access passwords.

Let’s say you use a six character password, which is common. If you use all lowercase letters, a hacker using a computer script that sequentially attempts to login to your account can have your “secret password” in only 10 minutes according to statistics published by Bloomberg Businessweek.

Delay fraudulent access from 10 minutes to 10 days with a six character password — just by using a combination of both upper and lowercase letters; ie. “Secret” instead of “secret”. The same hacker will need up to 18 days to crack your account password just by including numbers and symbols in the mix with your upper and lowercase letters.

Adding an extra character to your password, if allowed by your program, makes a big impact, as well. A seven character password in all lowercase letters, can be hacked in just 4 hours; adding upper and lowercase letters buys you 23 days. If you add numbers and symbols to your seven character password, the same hacker that cracked your six letter, lower case password in just 10 minutes, will need 4 years to do the same job.

The longer the password, the better. However, the use of numbers and symbols mathematically creates more of a deterrent than just about anything you can easily put in place. Going to an eight character password can delay hackers up to 4 days; but, including uppercase letters slows them down to 3 years and adding numbers and symbols slows them way down — requiring up to 463 years of attempts to crack.

My favorite is a nine character length password; but don’t use your social security number, that’s too easy. Hackers need 4 months just to crack an all-lowercase password … throw in upper and lowercase letters and you just bought yourself up to 178 years. If that’s not secure enough, adding numbers and symbols to a nine character upper and lowercase password will require an automated script to run for up to 44,530 years without success. By then, you won’t care anymore, will you?