Friday, 11 April 2014

April 11, 2014 - Use Password Protection

Happy Friday everyone!!

This week there has been a great deal of media attention given to the ‘Heartbleed’ security glitch and it appears that it is going to be getting worse before it gets better.  Although technically not a virus or security bug, Heartbleed is an error in programming that could leave you vulnerable to hackers and cyber-criminals. The Canadian Revenue Agency has temporarily halted their e-file online tax submission option for fear over concerns that the public’s information may be compromised and several other major companies may be affected.  Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Dropbox and even Minecraft may have been affected to some degree.  So how do you ensure the safety of your online information? Here are a few tips…

     Don’t save information on your computer
When shopping online or filling in forms online, the website will often ask if you would like to ‘save password’ or save information for later’.  This is strongly not recommended.  What will save you a few seconds in the future could cost you your identity. 

     Watch what you do on public wifi systems
Recently many public spaces such as your favourite restaurant, library and even the Town of Orangeville have chosen to offer free wifi to individuals as a courtesy, however you need to know that the information you are transmitting could be viewed by others in the system.  So save the internet banking for at home over a secure wifi connection.

     Create a strong password
It has been estimated that hackers can break into a 5 character password in as little as 10 seconds, a 6 character password in 1000 seconds, a 7 character password in 1 day and 10 character password would take 3000 years to identify – so as passwords go, the longer the better.  Use a variety of numbers and letters and even include punctuation if possible.  Instead of using a simple password such as ‘money’ try using ‘m0n3y!’  The addition of punctuation and combination of letters and numbers will make it more secure. Also don’t use the most frequent passwords – ‘aaaaa’, ‘abc1234’ and ‘password’ You can even use a sentence to make up your password, by using the first letter of each word.  For example, the sentence ‘I love my special dog Spot’ could be changed to ILMSDS; a very random mixture of letters which are not likely to be hacked but simple enough for you to remember.

     Change your passwords frequently
Although we run the risk of forgetting our new passwords when we opt to alter them, the recommendation is to change them once every three months.  Additionally we should not be using the same password for several accounts.  If a hacker discovers your password for one account they can then easily follow the trail of social media, etc. and use the same password to hack several of your other accounts. 
     Use an app or tool to help you remember
There are several trustworthy online tools and apps which can assist you in maintaining your passwords for you. Lastpass ( and 1Password ( securely encrypt your passwords and maintain them securely for you so you never have to think up an outside-the-box secret word.  Further, many personal computers now have finger swipe encryption or a ‘Simple Pass’ fingerprint reader which can be used to safely log into several accounts so you never need to remember that complicated string of letters.

While this current threat to security can be frightening, you shouldn't shy away from using technology.  You simply need to be smart about your virtual conduct and behave as you would in real-life.  Don’t give out private information to strangers and be sure to be secure.  Starting students on this path to virtual security early can have a significant impact later in life. Don’t leaver yourself vulnerable to cyber-criminals.


No comments:

Post a Comment