So over the past few weeks, I informed you that your passwords probably suck and why they suck, and then I gave you some general tips on how to make sure your passwords are strong. Today, we’ll take a look at how to actually put together some killer passwords that aren’t going to get hacked (unless you write them down on sticky notes and plaster them all over your office…I just can’t help you with that one).
There are a lot of bad people out there who want to steal your information and your money. I’ve already written multiple articles on why it’s important to have strong passwords. Cracking passwords is pretty mild compared to some of the more insidious ways hackers have of compromising your computer and accounts.
For example, they can control your computer’s camera and secretly watch you while you work.
They can install keylogger software that records every keystroke you make on your keyboard…meaning
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So you logged into Facebook to find the 46th request of the week to play Monster Face Punch from your Facebook friends. You’re sick of getting these invitations. You hate monsters, and the last thing you want to do is spend time punching one in the face. (Note: There is no Monster Face Punch. I made it up, so stop looking for it.)
Instead of screaming, “For the last time, I don’t want to run a match-three mafia farm!” at your screen, you can simply block the game in Facebook so that you stop getting those requests. Cool, eh? Facebook wants to make money by sucking you into more Facebook games and pages, so they don’t make a big fuss about this blocking feature. But it’s there.
Here’s how you can do it…
In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I terrified you with stories about how sites store your passwords and how hackers can then crack them. As I said, no password is uncrackable. That’s the bad news. The good news, though, is that you can generate passwords that are strong enough so that hackers don’t bother with you.
Hackers may target specific, high-profile people, expending a lot of energy to access to their accounts. But most of the time, they’re looking for quick and easy ways to get into a large number of accounts. Remember, a really weak password can be cracked immediately.
Before we start, let’s get one thing straight: No password is uncrackable. Given enough time and resources, hackers can figure out your password. In this article, I’m going to cover the history of how sites store passwords and give you a brief explanation for how hackers bypass different storage types to get your passwords. Once you understand how passwords are stored, hacked, and cracked, you’ll be much better prepared to develop good, strong passwords.
So back in the Internet’s Iron Age (i.e., the mid 90s), sites wanted to personalize their user experiences, so they designed membership frameworks that allowed people to maintain virtual online personalities (a.k.a. user accounts). Essentially, this gave users their own little place on the Internet where they could maintain an identity, participate in discussions, and eventually purchase things.
Yahoo was hacked last week. Again. It’s the second time in a month. The hackers made off with an untold number of passwords and other user data. (If you have a Yahoo account and haven’t changed your password lately, drop everything and do that right now. No really, I’ll still be here when you finish.)
Last December, hackers busted their way into Google and Facebook, absconding with over 2 million passwords.
When I bought a new car last year, it came with a complementary, three-month subscription to XM satellite radio. I’d never had it before, so I was kind of excited to check it out. After all, it did have Hair Nation: All your Hair Bands are Belong to Us!
At first, I loved it. Between Hair Nation, Ozzy’s Boneyard, and the 80s channel, I got to listen to tons of rocking tunes, some of which I hadn’t heard since high school. But after a couple months, I started to hear a lot of the same songs over and over again. I started checking out some of the other stations, but could never find one to settle on for any length of time.
Okay, after a long hiatus to swap domain hosting, tackle a large pile of home improvement issues, and survive the holidays, www.KenCrooker.com is back. I’ll probably change the layout, but I’m going to start trying to publish a couple things every week, from technology stuff to music & entertainment to babblings about the New York Giants and the NFL.
So on to it! I hope you enjoy what I have to say.