Facebook Security Danger: Mixing Social and E-mail Passwords

Last Updated Aug 22, 2010 10:46 PM EDT

Perhaps we're preaching to the choir at this point, but we can't help but point out that your e-mail, personal information, and even identity are at risk if you don't create strong, smart passwords. The cardinal rule of smart passwords is not to use the same one for critical data and social networking. Yet that appears to be exactly what 75% of you are doing.

SecurityWeek is reporting that a study by BitDefender shows that 75% of social networking usernames and passwords identically match those used for e-mail accounts.

This is bad, folks -- if you use the same username and password for a service like Facebook and that account is compromised (far from inconceivable, I should point out), then that data can be used to open your e-mail. And your e-mail is a free pass to bank account information and other personal data that shapes your entire identity.

So while it's fresh on your mind, go change your password -- especially if you rely on the same password for business and social accounts. How long does your password need to be to be considered strong? Well, you can follow Microsoft's password advice, for starters. But MSNBC is reporting that news out of Georgia Tech Research Institute that modern encryption cracking techniques are raising the bar for strong passwords.

If possible, Georgia Tech recommends, use at least 12 randomized characters. The current gold standard -- 8 characters -- can now be cracked in minutes.

Looking for a rational, organized way to create strong passwords? I still use (and recommend) a cypher chart you can create and tape to your desktop.

Photo by Simon Cocks