Use a strong password
- Make it as long as the service allows Longer password strings are more difficult to crack and brute force. The more characters, the more variations are available. "It's very cheap to build a powerful server to crack passwords," Beard said. "We built an internal server for client testing purposes." Of course, this cracking box is only effective if the hacker has already broken into company's back end servers. If a hacker gets into the back end, the damage is already done.
- Contains numbers, special characters, and both capital and lowercase letters For a password using all of the above, an eight character password has over 722,000,000,000,000 (722 quadrillion) variations. A 10 character password has over 3,740,000,000,000,000,000 (3 sextillion, 740 pentillion) variations. These numbers are based on using a-z, A-Z, 0-9, and !@#$%^&*() for a total of 72 possible characters. These passwords are almost impossible to guess offhand when these characters are randomized, and especially more difficult to crack.
- Doesn't contain any actual words Hackers will shorten their wait times by using what's called a dictionary attack. This involves using a list of predefined words to make guess at your password. "A dictionary attack is quick and dirty, and can yield quick results," Beard said. "It's the hacker's quickest bang for his buck." Dictionary attacks aren't always the best option, however. "It's very easy for a hacker to get caught using a dictionary attack." Even so, removing actual words from your password minimizes your risk.
- Rotate your passwords Changing your password on a regular basis goes a long way to make your account more secure. From talking with Mark, he recommends a password cycle of once a month for changing your password. It's also important to not recycle the same password twice, especially with different services.
- Examples of weak passwords "GoYanks!!1" "thisisastrongpassword" "password" "12345678"
- Example of a strong password "Ux48&wGC16?#"
Don't share account information with the world
|This guy may be protected, but you're not him. Don't be like him|
While this next part is not intended to be an anti-piracy rant, pirated software is one of the easiest ways to get a keylogger or virus on one's computer. This is usually included within the code that cracks the authentication software, and opens up a connection to the outside to install other malware on the affected computer. While there may be plenty of cracking groups that release software without viruses, there are thousands more that do. Unless you are prepared to assume that kind of risk, don't take it.
Use multi-factor authentication if it's available
Protect your credit card data
Don't fall for phishing scams
Now, all of this information is fine and dandy, but there's one thing more important than anything else when it comes to keeping data secure. Hackers will only go after an account if there's something they can exploit or leverage there. "If someone is trying to break into your account, and you're making it difficult for the attacker, they are more likely to give up and go after an easier target." Beard said. "It's kind of like that joke with the lion and the two best friends. 'I don't have to be faster than the lion, I just have to be faster than you.'"