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April 10th, 2014

Do you hate updating your passwords whenever there’s a new hack?

Advice about changing passwords from AVAST.

Change your passwords as a precaution against the Heartbleed bug.

We reported yesterday about the serious Heartbleed  bug which allows hackers to steal encryption keys from nearly two-thirds of all websites.

“This is probably the worst bug discovered this year. We believed in the security of SSL/TLS, and now discover that it comes with a hole that allows anyone to read our personal information such as passwords, cookies or even server’s private keys,” said Jiri Sejtko, Director of the AVAST Virus Lab. “We, as end users, simply can’t do anything, but make sure we are as secure as possible.”

That means changing your passwords. Again.

If just thinking about changing all your passwords makes you want to jump out the window, then here are a few tricks to help make it a little less painful. At the end of this post, we’ll share a tip on how to make password creation, as well as remembering them all, as easy-as-pie. So go all the way to the end. ;)

Why do cybercrooks want your password?

It takes serious effort to hijack accounts, so there must be some payoff at the end for cybercrooks.  Obviously, it’s not to get your vacation photos. Money is the most common motivation. Your money.

There are many ways of turning stolen data into money, but one of them is worth highlighting. Research shows that 55% of us reuse passwords on different sites. It is likely that you use the same password for Facebook  that you use for your bank account.  This means that cybercrooks can steal your money much easier. Never use the same passwords on different sites, especially for really important services.

Password basics

1. Use a random collection of letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers and symbols

2. Make it 8 characters or longer

3. Create a unique password for every account

Tricks and tips

Maximum password security requires at least seven characters, a mix of upper and lower case, a few symbols, and a sense of humor.

Create an acronym using a meaningful, easy-to-remember piece of information. Use a sentence like My wedding anniversary is 28 December, 2001. That phrase turns into this password, Mwai28/Dec.01.

Many sites require a special symbol like ` ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ – + = { } [ ] \ | : ; ” ‘ < > , . ? /. Use some of those to replace letters. Your password can be this, M<>ai28/Dec.0!.

You can also do this with your favorite song, like Pharrell Williams’ Happy.

The well-known lyrics says
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy

If using Facebook to keep up with your friends and avast! makes you feel happy, then use that to create a unique password that you can remember for the social network. C@!yfl@r<>@rb!h

What not to do when creating a new password

  • Use sequences such as “abcd” or “123456″
  • Use any part of your name, username, or email
  • Use “password” or “qwerty”
  • Use simple common words, such as a name or trademark like samsung, lenovo, or adidas
  • Share your password with anyone else
  • Send your password by email
  • Write and post it in a nearly public space – such as above your computer.  Try to memorize the password, avoid writing it down.

TIP: If C@!yfl@r<>@rb!h still seems like too much to remember, and you have bunches of other passwords to memorize as well, I recommend avast! EasyPass, which does the job for you. A one year subscription costs less than a movie ticket to see Despicable Me 2. That’s something to be Happy about!

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Categories: General, How to Tags: , ,