The Latest Password Strengthening Tips (in the wake of Gmail’s massive hack)

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download Do you have a Gmail account? You might want to consider changing your password. It was just reported that 5 million Gmail accounts and their passwords have been posted to a Russian bitcoin forum by a user named tvskit. The post was taken down rather quickly by the moderators. However, the original post contained a text file that could be downloaded, so it has most likely spread and will pop up again elsewhere. When reaching out to Google for comment, their response was that most of the accounts stolen were old or suspended accounts. But the user, tvskit, claims that he (or she) was able to log into most of the accounts.

Regardless of whether your account is on this list or not, it brings up a good topic in regards to security of your email. Security of email and private information is increasingly becoming vulnerable due to the sophistication of hacking attempts. A few recent examples of hacks that have unfortunately been successful include the iCloud hacks of celebrity photos,  the Sony PSN hack, and the FBI website hacks by Anonymous. The PSN and FBI hacks were due to flaws found in their services.

But the iCloud hacks happened due to simple passwords.

In fact, most hacks happen because users use simple passwords in order to remember them. These simple passwords (examples include password, 123456, qwerty, 11111) can cause a lot of issues, especially because they are constantly targeted by thieves. GRC is a great site to determine how secure your password is. This site allows you to input a password, and you can see, through their mathematical equation, how quickly that password can be hacked.

I strongly recommend you review this site and come up with a password that provides as much strength as you can handle. Even adding a few symbols and numbers to a simple password can really amp up your security. For example, let’s take the password “password.” In an online fast attack scenario, that word can be hacked in 2.17 seconds! But if you add an exclamation point to the end of that password (i.e.: password!), this increases the fast attack scenario hack to 1.02 days. 

In my example at the GRC site, I made the password: !@#P@ssw0rd*(). I added a capital letter, some numbers, and a good amount of symbols. I now took the 2.17 sec.-hacked password to 15.67 million centuries. It’s easy to remember, as well. Think about it: the first three symbols follow a pattern. Then I spell password, with a capital P at the beginning in leet speak, and then my three end symbols all follow a pattern at the end of the spectrum.

The case I am trying to make really is to protect yourself. There are so many malicious hackers out there, as we have seen with the latest Gmail hack, that ensuring that your password is as secure as possible should be of the highest priority.

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