Had a Radio Listener Instant Message me today on Facebook wondering if I could recommend a Free Email program. She stated that she had previously used MSN but had been hacked into and got rid of the program. At the top of my mind, I recommended Gmail. The program comes from Google which offers a wide range of tools that you may or may not use from Google Voice, Talk to Picasa to email with Gmail just to name a few.
As soon as I had typed my suggestion for Gmail I received a response right back, “Can’t use that – friend had hers hacked..” I was beginning to see a pattern here. The thought came to mind about delivering a smart alec answer of “Maybe you should use the postal service” but then thought, she might come back with “somebody stole the mail out of the box!”
This of course for those of you looking for a free email program or using any type of service on the web brings the reminder to make sure your passwords are difficult to crack. Using words like password, dog, admin or pass are easily guessed and could open up your Email or any kind of program requiring a login to problems.
Another reminder is to not use the same password for multiple services. While this can be more difficult as more services require user names and passwords, this can help protect you in the case a system is compromised with personal information and associated passwords. There are some programs and even hardware on the market to help not only create passwords that would be very difficult to crack but also store passwords for multiple sites. One of those companies is ID Vault found at http://www.idvault.com/
If you are looking for some ideas on how to create a viable password, a good rule of thumb is make the password more then 8 characters. There are some password cracking programs that can quickly uncover a password in less then an hour when the password is less then 5 characters. Using Lower and Upper Case along with punctuation and numbers is also a great way to make the password more difficult. Many will recommend using a favorite term or saying to help deliver a strong password. Maybe you enjoy eating at Five Guy Burgers (Plug Bell Please). How about taking the term “I Love Eating at 5 Guys Burgers!” This could be translated to Ilea5GB! – We have upper Case, a Number and Punctuation mark in the password.
It’s also good to remember safe computing as well. If you get email from unknown users asking you to click on something, do you really have to? Do you have to open a file from a known user that you haven’t talked with in awhile? Do you have a good anti-virus program? There are some free ones that are quite good on the market however, having the security of a program that is constantly testing and delivering solutions to its users with a paid subscription to updates will provide more protection again new viruses. Isn’t it worth the 30 or 40 bucks a year?
So please remember, in most cases – if your Email was hacked – there was probably a step here and there that was missed. Clicking a link, no protection on your system, using a public computer and not logging out or a system already infected with a keylogger or a password that can be guessed at or easily figured out. Also, don’t write your password under your keyboard or on a post it note attached to the monitor. Yes, I’ve seen that before. For more information on Virus Protection take a look at http://www.symantec.com The Makers of the popular Norton Anti-Virus or http://www.eset.comthe makers of one of my favorites Eset Nod32. More tips on Password Creation can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/protect/fraud/passwords/create.aspx