October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, but it’s almost over. Here’s what the Department Of Homeland Security says about it:
Today, we are more interconnected than ever before. Not only do we use the Internet to stay connected, informed, and involved, but we rely on it for all of our day-to-day needs. The nation’s critical infrastructure relies heavily on the Internet for everything from submitting taxes, to applying for student loans, to following traffic signals, to even powering our homes. Can you imagine our lives without the Internet?
Yet, for all of its advantages, increased connectivity brings increased risk of crime – thus making cybersecurity one of our country’s most important national security priorities.
Passwords continue to be a concern. This week, we looked at new data about some of the recent big password leaks, finding that the most common password on the Internet is password, followed by 123456 and 12345678. Suffice it to say, passwords aren’t being taken seriously enough.
Software developer Siber Systems has put out a set of simple password-related tips for consumers to consider:
1. Create passwords that are difficult for anyone to guess, including friends, family and hackers. Avoid passwords that relate on a personal level, instead use upper and lower case letters, random symbols, and do not use any word found in the dictionary. One trick is to choose the first letters of each word from a random phrase such as “I like to eat pineapple daily”, to get “iLtEPd”, with the addition of a symbol and number for added measure. Also change passwords every 30 days.
2. Do not utilize default passwords such as “1234” that were provided automatically or by system administrators. Using such a password means someone else or a system has a record of the current password, making it unsecure. Change defaults immediately to a memorable and random password.
3. Writing down passwords is an especially troublesome habit. Pieces of paper provide others with a simple way to capture and exploit passwords. Use a secure tool to manage various passwords, or take parts of a unique and memorable phrase to create a password.
4. Avoid duplication at all costs. Using the same or very similar passwords (Charles10 and Charles17 for example) across multiple logins exposes individuals and entire enterprises to significant risk. Be sure to use different passwords for every login.
5. Utilize technology tools to make password management and selection easier.
Setting a strong password is the top recommendation from the Department of Homeland Security, when it comes to practicing cybersecurity. Other recommendations include: keeping your operating system, browser and other software optimized by installing updates, maintaining an open dialogue with family, friends and community about Internet safety, limiting the amount of personal info you post online and using privacy settings, and being cautious about what you receive or read online.