Yeah, yeah, happy New Year to you you, too, now, go change your passwords.
No, seriously, change your passwords. Think about how long it’s been since you either setup that account or changed the password on it. Now, consider that there have been some significant security breaches in the past year, including the issues at Gawker and their family of popular websites, and think about how many places you’ve used that same password. It’s your favorite one, right? The one you use for all your accounts, because it’s so, so easy to remember? Guess what, it’s also probably easy to crack and is probably in a database on some hacker/cracker website right now matched up with the e-mail address you used, too. How long will it be, do you suppose, before someone gets into all your accounts?
So, go change your passwords.
Not sure how to pick a good one? Well, if you trust the U.S. Government for security, you can go to their Computer Emergency Readiness Team (aka US-CERT) for advice on choosing a secure password. If you’re like me, though, you categorically do NOT trust a government agency for your personal security, in which case I recommend that you check out premier security expert Bruce Schneier’s advice for picking a secure password.
I’ll offer two bits of advice on the topic.
First, if any system lets you, choose a password that includes numbers and special characters, not just letters. The example I always use is “@2brutus” And, yes, that means I will NEVER again use that as a password. *sigh* I like to substitute numbers for letters which resemble them, like the number one instead of the letter L or the letter I. In the example, I’ve taken a whole word out “et” and substituted the “at” symbol, or “@”.
Secondly, try to use something that is not a single word, but a phrase. Again, in the example, I took my bastardization of “et tu brute”, which I remembered as “et tu brutus” and mashed it up a bit. I have known people who use short sentences, however. One guy I worked with occasionally used lines from Lewis Carroll’s Jaberwocky, which adds the extra security of words that will most likely never be found in any standard dictionary of any language.
So, trust me on this, if you haven’t done it, start the new year right and change your passwords.
Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"People who fight fire with fire usually end up with ashes."
--Abigail Van Buren