Double Wrap Mask It.
By now, you’ve all heard of Conficker. A treacherously crippling computer virus that, spread through emails, computer networks, file sharing, and USB drives, empowers perpetrators to steal data, send mass amounts of spam and issue operating system attacks. These days, computer use requires the same exercise in caution as, let’s say…casual sex. After reading a fascinating article on Consumerist, I’ve decided to start a Computer Ed class. Consider this your first lesson in password protection:
Historically, we’ve been advised by computer savvies worldwide to use a different password for each website and email account we own. Over the years, as computer hackers and their viruses have become more malignant, computer docs have advised that we become smarter about creating passwords. We’ve learned that using passwords like iluvbobby serve more like a master key for hackers, giving them direct access to our personal information such as bank accounts, health and prescription information (i.e., CVS.com), and gossipy emails about how the neighbor is carrying ten more pounds than last year. Some simple steps to effectively donning your computer condom are as follows:
1. Work off of an acronym – trying to remember a different password for the countless accounts you’ve set up over the years is nothing short of hectic; as it is, you can barely remember what you have to do in a given day. The key to creating a memorable password is to start with an easy-to-remember acronym, usually based off of a true fact. Take wfnb, short for working for no bucks, or satfr, for still at the first rung (of the ladder…OBVIOUSLY); clearly easy to remember (especially as tax season is upon us). Anyway, both acronyms comprise an unnatural alphabetic progression, immediately beefing up the stability of your password.
2. Mix it up – the next step to creating a nearly impenetrable (no pun intended) password is to mix up your combination with letters, numbers, and symbols. So, wfnb might become wf&8 and satfr might become s@1r. In the first example, the & replaces n as it sounds similar and an 8 sort of looks like a capital b. In the latter example, @ replaces a and 1 replaces f (which stood for first). Given the fact that I barely understand what I’ve just written, it’s a good indication that hackers will probably have a hard time cracking your code as well.
3. Use subtle reminders – you can’t use identical passwords for all sites so use subtle reminders. For instance, if your base password is wf&8 and you’re logging into your Stop & Shop Pea Pod account, make your password ppwf&8. If you’re logging into your Netflix account, make your password nfwf&8. Follow suit for logging into your bank accounts, credit card statements, and sketchy S&M sites you visit in the privacy of your own home on the World Wide Web.
4. Never tell a soul – this is certainly the type of information where, if ever asked, your response must be, “I would tell you but I’d have to kill you.” You must use password protection at all costs because it only takes one, heat-of-the-moment encounter and you could find yourself regretting your decision for the rest of your life. Stop thinking with your joystick and be smart about spreading your computer passwords. It really is something special.
OK, folks. That’s all for now. Stay tuned for next week’s lesson on the anatomy of your hard drive.
Posted by Elizabeth