Password Security

How secure do you think your computer or online data really is? One technique used by hackers to break passwords is so-called “brute force” where they try and guess every single combination for your password and unfortunately this is becoming easier. It is quite common practice now to utilise the processors contained onboard graphics cards to crack these passwords because of their abilities to perform “floating-point” operations rather than the standard CPUs performing integer calculations. This means that if you have a short and simply-formatted password, your accounts could be opened to hackers in a matter of minutes!

So how can you protect yourself here?

Well the first option is to use a more secure password; try and choose something with upper/lower case characters, numbers and symbols to add complexity. You should also be using password lengths of around 12 characters ideally as it becomes exponentially harder to crack with a longer password.

When you are online, always make sure that you know the site that you are using is genuine. Simple test for this is look at the URL in the address bar; so many passwords are found where people create an identically looking login page and capture your data. If you know you are sending sensitive data OR accessing sensitive data, make sure that the site has an approved security certificate and is accessed on https:// .

Now even https connections are under attack too. Because of once again the uses of graphics card processors, these secure connections can be broken in a scarily short amount of time too! For this reason, many companies now demand what are referred to as “one-time-passwords” where these are calculated by some algorithm and are time-dependent. This way, if someone does sniff your “password”, it will not be useable at another time.

Rule of thumb

Secure password. Think what you’re sending. Think where it is being stored is secure. Make sure that you are on the site you intend to be on. Simple!

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