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by Paul Vaccarelli

Nowadays, we are all conscious of the dangers of identity theft. We can protect the data on our computer by password protecting our log on, and we feel a bit safer doing on-line transactions when websites ask us to set up profiles using a password only we know. But is that password safe?

The simplest rule of thumb for creating a good password is one that is hard to guess, but easy to remember. It should be hard to guess by not only a person, but password cracking software as well. Therefore, if your password is a proper name, or a word that can be found in the dictionary, your password is extremely unsafe. A password cracking program can blast through the dictionary in seconds. Replacing O’s with zeros or L’s with ones only add a small amount of time to guess your password.

An alternative to using names and words as passwords is to take the first letter of a phrase or song lyric, string them together, then replace O’s with zeros or L’s with ones. The result is a cryptic looking password that you can easily remember. For example, a password based on “Goldilocks and the three bears” can be “g1at3b”.

Or, if you’re a Rockies fan, a password like “helton17” (17 being Todd Helton’s jersey number) might seem safe, but password crackers take that into consideration as well. However, if you base your password on “Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies 17” it will look like this, “th0tcr17”. It is hard to guess even for a password cracker, but easy for you to remember.

Remember, the weakest link for any security system is the password. Keep this in mind when creating one.

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