How Passwords Get Hacked April 1, 2010Posted by bitchwantstea in Tech / Science.
Tags: advice, hackers, internet, password, safeguard, security
Every day we seem to hear about some poor soul having their password cracked, be it on their email account, a social networking site, or an online shopping destination.
But how exactly do hackers manage to crack them? And what constitutes a ‘weak’ password?
Onemansblog.com goes into a helpful amount of detail, explaining broadly about how a hacker works their way in, and the multiple routes to go about it.
According to the site, here’s a Top 10 ‘easiest to crack’ list of passwords, covering 20% of the population:
- Your partner, child, or pet’s name, possibly followed by a 0 or 1 (because they’re always making you use a number, aren’t they?)
- The last 4 digits of your social security number.
- 123 or 1234 or 123456.
- Your city, or college, football team name.
- Date of birth – yours, your partner’s or your child’s.
So obvious stuff, like your partner’s name, your city, date of birth, etc, are bad choices. But what are GOOD password choices?
- Randomly substitute numbers for letters that look similar. The letter ‘o’ becomes the number ‘0′, or even better an ‘@’ or ‘*’. (i.e. – m0d3ltf0rd… like modelTford)
- Randomly throw in capital letters (i.e. – Mod3lTF0rd)
- Think of something you were attached to when you were younger, but DON’T CHOOSE A PERSON’S NAME! Every name plus every word in the dictionary will fail under a simple brute force attack.
- Maybe a place you loved, or a specific car, an attraction from a vacation, or a favorite restaurant?
- You really need to have different username / password combinations for everything. Remember, the technique is to break into anything you access just to figure out your standard password, then compromise everything else. This doesn’t work if you don’t use the same password everywhere.
- Since it can be difficult to remember a ton of passwords, I recommend using Roboform for Windows users. It will store all of your passwords in an encrypted format and allow you to use just one master password to access all of them. It will also automatically fill in forms on Web pages, and you can even get versions that allow you to take your password list with you on your PDA, phone or a USB key. If you’d like to download it without having to navigate their web site here is the direct download link.
- Mac users can use 1Password“>1Password. It is essentially the same thing as Roboform, except for Mac, and they even have an iPhone application so you can take them with you too.
- Once you’ve thought of a password, try Microsoft’s password strength tester to find out how secure it is.
It’s fascinating (but scary stuff) and well worth a read. Remember – prevention is better than cure.