Monday, September 06, 2010

Passwords For Security

CyberspaceImage by Zebra Pares via Flickr
New York Times: A Strong Password Isn’t the Strongest Security: MAKE your password strong, with a unique jumble of letters, numbers and punctuation marks. But memorize it — never write it down. And, oh yes, change it every few months. These instructions are supposed to protect us. But they don’t....... Keylogging software, which is deposited on a PC by a virus, records all keystrokes — including the strongest passwords you can concoct — and then sends it surreptitiously to a remote location. ..... antivirus software could detect and block many kinds of keyloggers, but “there’s no guarantee that it gets everything.” ..... sites that allowed relatively weak passwords were busy commercial destinations, including PayPal, and Fidelity Investments. The sites that insisted on very complex passwords were mostly government and university sites. ..... “If an account is locked for 24 hours after three unsuccessful attempts,” they write, “a six-digit PIN can withstand 100 years of sustained attack.” .....“Eat your broccoli; a strong password is good for security.”

What are your options? You can still go for a strong password. You can still change them periodically. You can still get anti virus software. You can hope it is illegal for someone to try and get your password, but this is a big world. The nation state is an ant to the cyber criminals who mostly work remotely.

What is your prayer then? That you are personally too insignificant to be snooped upon? That there are too many people like you out there?

Password theft is like identity theft. Can you imagine the inconvenience of someone having stolen your password and then changed it? Your contacts are not going to think your password got stolen. They are going to think you are being rude in not responding to their emails.

Maybe you can inform your 10 or 20 key contacts. But it would not be possible to inform them all.

For the short term, my bet is on good anti virus software. Keep it renewed. Most people do. And I am glad. Bill Gates once promised to incorporate anti virus software right into Windows. And he went ahead and retired.

It is a relentless fight between good and evil. But common sense is a good armor for the most part. And, yes, there are too many people like you out there. It is a numbers game. It is statistical. You are for the most part safe. Just keep to common sense. Keep a strong password. And keep your anti virus software renewed.

Safety online is kind of like safety offline. There are some common sense ground rules to follow. Even so you might fall a victim. It is a numbers game. If you do, know what to do.

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