McAfee Tips on Safeguarding Your Passwords

In light of the hack that was reported late yesterday that exposed more than 450,000 passwords for a Yahoo! site, McAfee would like to remind consumers of the importance of frequently changing passwords to any and all online accounts. Additionally, these passwords should be long and complex.

Often times, a hacker’s job is made easier by people creating simple passwords like:
– A sequential list of numbers (e.g. “123456”)
– Using the word “password” as the password
– Using consecutive keyboard combinations (e.g. “qwerty” or “asdfg”)

Doug Cooke, director of Sales Engineering at McAfee Canada, said, “In the end, it’s the responsibility of the public to protect themselves. This disclosure now requires those currently exposed to change their password. The rule of thumb is to change your passwords frequently, every six months. It’s a cliché, but true – passwords need to be strong. Let the keyboard be your palate and be creative. A common mistake people make is that they use dictionary or slang terms. Beware. Dictionary attacks use software that automatically plugs common words into password fields making password cracking effortless for various tools.”

Some tips from McAfee for best practices regarding password security include the following:

  • Use different passwords for every password-protected account. Otherwise, if someone is able to gain access to one password, he will literally own your online presence.
  • It’s always a good idea to use letters, numbers, and symbols in passwords. This makes it harder for hackers to guess your password.
  • Change your passwords frequently and avoid re-using a password for at least one year.
  • Use comprehensive security software and keep it up to date to avoid keyloggers (keystroke loggers) and other malware.

Check out this blog post from Robert Siciliano, online security and safety evangelist to McAfee, for more information about common ways to hack passwords and some tips on how to stay secure.