Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Year, New Passwords

Okay, everyone. Just a few more weeks and it will be 2014.

While most of you may be into the Christmas rush, it might be good to set aside a few hours to check all your passwords and maybe change them, at the same time ensuring they are fairly strong this time.

Why? Because I just recently came across a Spiderlabs blog article that said that as many as two million accounts were compromised. Yikes!

Of all the stats about credentials stolen, the ones that would affect you and I more are the following:

1,580,000 website login credentials
320,000 email account credentials

The article also said that on website login credentials, the more common ones were Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, etc. So as you can see, many social media networks are in this list. The article also stated that there were over 90 countries affected, making this a global scheme.

Actually, whether this article came out or not, it is always prudent practice to regularly change one's passwords.  A strong password would be one that is at least 8 characters long and has uppercase, lowercase, numerical and symbol combinations in it. Having a password that has all 4 features is what Spiderlabs refers to as an "Excellent" character type. The worse would be about 4 characters long and is only one character type (for ex, just alphabetical, just numerical, etc).

Now you may be the heck do I remember ALL these different passwords? With a password manager, of course. And there are several out in the market. Most have a free version with basic password protection while offering other plans for a fee if you want more features like mobile versions, autosync with other devices, and more. The one I use is 1Password for Mac as well as for iOS and all my passwords are synced across my devices including my Android phones. It is also able to generate strong passwords and log you into your applications.

Also check out KeePass and LastPass. And just recently, I found out my son uses Dashlane. So check the features out and see which one suits you.

Some of these apps offer discounts around holidays. For example, I got a pretty good upgrade deal on 1Password 4 during Thanksgiving. If you are a little patient, wait till Christmas or New Year for possible deals on premium upgrades.

Don't wait till your accounts are compromised. Despite ensuring strong passwords, I recently received an email from Adobe that my account was one of those compromised and I had to quickly change password. For apps that offer 2-step verification, avail of it to add another layer of security.

So make 2014 a truly happy new year with safe applications. Change your passwords ASAP.

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