Labs Special Edition: Password Security

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In light of nearly 2 million social media account passwords being compromised and circulated recently, let’s talk password security. Founding Partner AJ Gerritson stopped by the Fox News studio last night to discuss the recent security breach and steps you can take to protect yourself from the same fate.


While most of the accounts appear to belong to users outside the U.S., now is a good a time as ever to take your password security into consideration. This time of year is prime for hackers as many are shopping online for the holidays.


When it comes to online security, the best defense from hackers is a strong offense. When combing through the compromised passwords, researchers made a disturbing discovery: thousands used the same weak passwords, including ‘123456,’ ‘password,’ and ‘admin.’ Other common passwords include ‘abc123’, ‘iloveyou’ and ‘monkey,’ according to SplashData.

Facebook admitted that hackers are breaking into hundreds of thousands of accounts daily.  Out of more than a billion logins to the website every 24 hours, 600,000 can be attributed to hackers attempting to access users’ personal information.


So what makes a password strong?


  • Make them long. The longer the better; 8 characters minimum.
  • Make them wacky. Use a combination of numbers, symbols and letters – upper and lower case. “4M5a1r!keting” is a lot harder to crack than “451Marketing!”
  • Change them regularly. 
  • Avoid real words, as in ones in the dictionary. Hacking programs are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to go through databases of words, even with the addition of numbers and symbols
  • Avoid easy-to-guess words, even if they aren’t in the dictionary.
  • Avoid personal information including your name, company, hometown, pet name, and relatives’ names.
  • Avoid easily searchable information, such as your birthday or ZIP code.


What else can you do to protect yourself against hackers?

Keep a clean computer.

  • Don’t download anything from untrustworthy websites
  • Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date and running
  • Update your web browser

Get notified. Most social networks will allow you to set additional layers of security to protect your account. Activate these security measures and set up to receive text message alerts when your account is subject to suspicious activity, such as attempted access from an unrecognizable device.


Pro tip: Make sure your bank account password is unique. If a hacker were to gain access to your social media accounts, at least your bank account remains safe.


Better safe than sorry! What measures do you take to keep your online presence secure?