Making Your Passwords Harder on Hackers

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Even though passwords are critical to keeping prying eyes out of our computers, many people pick passwords that are very basic and hence, way too easy to crack, according to new data.

A recent analysis by computer security company Imperva showed one-out-of-five people choosing the simplest of passwords, such as 123456 or abc123 to protect their computers.

But, on "The Early Show" Monday, Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen offered easy tips on selecting better passwords.

E-mail Susan Koeppen
Susan Koeppen's Twitter page

USE CATCHPHRASES

Use first letters of catch phrases. For example: WALIAYS -- "We all live in a yellow submarine"

USE NUMB3RS @ND $YMBOLS

Strengthen your password by using numbers, uppercase letters and symbols, and uncommon words. For instance: Applesauce could be @pple$@uce, Use the @ for you're A's, the $ symbol for you S's, and exclamation points for your I's.

DO NOT AUTO-SAVE

Log in manually every time. Many Web sites offer the option of saving your password so you can automatically log-in the next time you visit. As tempting as that is, you should take the extra 10 seconds to log in manually. There's no telling who might access your computer while you're away. Do you really want your e-mail exposed to anyone who uses your computer?

USE PASSWORDMETER.COM

Test it on PasswordMeter.com. It's fun to play around with, but it's a very technical Web site that measures how good your password is, and deducts or adds to your total score based on how many capital letters, consecutive letters, numbers, etc. you use.

DON'T CHANGE THEM BECAUSE AN E-MAILER TELLS YOU TO

This is spam or a hacker.

DISGUISE ANSWERS TO SECURITY QUESTIONS

Use punctuation, etc. Anyone who knows anything about you can probably figure out your mom's maiden name or what high school you went to.

CHANGE PASSWORDS OFTEN

It's very important that you do this every couple of months. Also, always keep more than one password going at the same time. You don't need 20 different ones, but at least two would be advisable.

DON'T TELL OTHERS HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR PASSWORDS

For instance, don't mention that all your passwords are different childhood nicknames with your birthday attached! As soon as this story came up, two of Koeppen's producers were lightheartedly talking about it, and told each other their passwords. One uses the college she went to, and the other uses different kinds of hotdog toppings. Don't do that!! Don't get into the details!
  • CBSNews

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