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Cracking the password code (and keeping others from cracking yours)

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in Office Technology

Can you guess what the most common online password is?

Actually, you probably could guess. Internet-security firm Imperva recently reported that 123456 is the most common password. Second-most common is 12345, followed by 123456789. And the fourth most common password is “password.”

The firm compiled the report after gaining access to 32 million passwords that were briefly posted online, during a major security breach in December.

The firm recommends that even if your in-house network or the web sites you frequent don’t require you to, you should follow these rules:

  • Choose a password that contains a minimum of eight characters.
  • Include a mix of four different types of characters: uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters such as !@#$%^&*.

Other guidelines for creating crack-proof passwords come from Microsoft:

  1. Use mnemonics to keep track of them. Start with a sentence you can remember, like “My son Aiden is three years old.”
  2. Check to see whether the computer or online system supports the pass phrase directly. If so, you can use a pass phrase.
  3. Convert the phrase to a password, if the web site doesn’t support phrases. Take the first letter of each word of the sentence to create a made-up word. The sample above would become “msaityo.”
  4. Add complexity by substituting letters with numbers or symbols, changing lower-case to upper-case letters, or adding misspellings. Your password might become “My $oN Ayden is Tree yeeRs old.”
  5. Rate your password. Test it on Password Checker, a safe, free tool that allows you to type in your password and receive a weak, medium, strong or best ranking.

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