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November, 2012

  1. How hackers hack, and how to stop it

    November 9, 2012 by Karl

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    This article will outline the basic errors most of us make with our on-line passwords, and recommend a few changes and some free software to keep track of them all.  This can save you lots of time and money down the road.

    First let me provide a few statistics:  According to Sophos, one-third of computer users choose a single password for everything.  According to BitDefender, 75 percent of computer users choose the same password for their email and social media (facebook) accounts.

    What does this mean?  For a majority of people, all a hacker needs to do is figure out a person’s facebook password, and they now have access to many of their other accounts.  They could sit on those passwords for weeks, months, or years before doing anything with them.  Your passwords may have been  stolen without you even knowing about it!

    How do hackers figure out passwords to social media?  The most popular method is through phishing.  All those cute pictures of cats that you click on that land you on another page, could very easily be attempting to steal your password, especially if you see a facebook login screen asking you to re-login to facebook (which does happen legitimately from time to time).  Phishing for passwords on facebook is surprisingly easy.  I have been truly shocked in the reading that I have done on the subject.

    Why do we use simple passwords?  Well, we want something we can remember.  It’s also so much easier if we use the same password for everything, right?

    Here are a few more statistics: Using software to try random digit combinations, hackers can find a 6 digit password in about 5 minutes.  They can find a 7 digit password in about 2 hours.  They can find an 8 digit password in about 2 days.  So the length of your password IS important.

    Most hackers, however, use a dictionary approach to finding your password.  This uses a long list of commonly used passwords such as “1234567” (the most popular), or “password”, or pet / spouse names, sometimes preceded or followed by some numbers.

    If you use one password for everything, you are at HIGH risk of being hacked.  If any of your passwords are less than 7 digits or you use one of the simple-to-remember dictionary passwords, you are at HIGH risk of being hacked.

    So what can we do to keep our accounts safe, but not forget what the passwords are?  I used to have a black file box that held all my passwords.  After a while this became cumbersome, and it also left me vulnerable if someone were to break into my house.  For the past 4 years I have been using KeePass to keep track of all my passwords.  KeePass is a free application that you can download and use for Windows, Mac, OS X, and Linux operating systems.  It is as safe as you can get.  Use the Professional Edition which has some more advanced features.

    Keepass is a free secure database that you keep on your computer that allows you to have quick access to all your password information.  You can categorize the passwords however you want.  It is a VERY nice tool for keeping track of your passwords.

    On the date of this post, I now have well over 300 passwords in KeePass, and they are very secure.  Check out the video below.

    How to download, install and use KeePass software from on Vimeo.