Whether it’s the password to your email, your voice mail, or an online account of some sort, be sure to use something that isn’t easy to guess. As the News of the World scandal should teach us, easy-to-guess passwords open the door for hackers to get at your information.
Daniel Amitay, a New York-based developer of an iPhone security app that requires users to set a four-digit passcode, last month disclosed in the Wall Street Journal what the most popular PINs were among his more than 200,000 users. If everyone had chosen a PIN at random, each PIN would have about 20 users. But instead, more than 15% of users, or 30,000, chose one of just 14 common PINs: 1234; 2580 or 0852 (the keys at the center of the keypad, in order or reverse order); 5683, which spells “love”; or four identical digits, such as 0000 or 5555.
It may seem time consuming, and no fun, but the best way to protect yourself from this problem is to get a little creative with your passwords. Don’t use personal information that can be easily found, like a birthday, an address, a zip code, or a high school graduation year. Voicemail PIN numbers can have up to 10 digits, so go beyond the typical four digits, like maybe spell your favorite 10-letter word. Sauerkraut is a good one. For email passwords, utilize letters (capital and lower case), numbers and symbols. Also avoid using the same password for ALL of your accounts. Alternate among two or three different passwords. This is in case one of your accounts gets hacked. By using multiple passwords, all your accounts won’t be jeopardized in one instance.
If you need a little extra help coming up with passwords, try the password creation tool from Web-eze. This tool automatically generates a minimum of four strong passwords that you can use. You can also set it to generate more if necessary.