Play Smart with Passwords
Passwords are designed to keep our information safe from prying eyes. They're like locks. A hacker may force the door and break your lock, but most of the time a strong lock keeps people out. But let's be honest: Passwords are annoying. Remembering them is a pain, so we often take the easy way out and use simple passwords that we won't forget. But if they're easy to remember, they're also easy to guess.
When the site RockYou.com was hacked in 2009, a security firm examined the 32 million compromised passwords and found that thousands upon thousands of users relied on the same basic phrases. The password "123456" took first place with 290,731 hits; "12345," "123456789," "Password" and "iloveyou" rounded out the top five most-used passwords [source: Tom'sHardware]. If you use one of those passwords, change it. The more complicated your password is, the safer your data will be. It's true, complex passwords won't be as easy to recall. Find a safe place to record your passwords if you can't remember them.
The best passwords combine letters, numbers and symbols into an unusual configuration. Don't take the easy route and capitalize the first letter of the word or use the numeral "1" in place of the letter "l" or a zero in place of the letter "O." Throw in a few random numbers or characters like a plus sign (+) or underscore (_) and you'll be far better off than anyone relying on "password123" or "qwerty" to keep them safe. Once you have a good password, what you do next is just as important: Don't spread it around.