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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

New Year, New Password

5 January 2012 by Alice Cullen

It’s the start of a new year and the perfect time for a new password.

As UKFast revealed in 2011, the extra firepower of cheap graphics cards leaves most passwords vulnerable. Having long complex passwords that are changed regularly dramatically improves your password strength.

Password generators are a hi-tech way to have a constantly changing password, with a new one created by the gadgets each time you log in.

Why not include your online presence in the new year clear-out? The January lull presents a perfect opportunity to delete any profiles on sites that you no longer use to reduce your vulnerability online.

Only this week an old profile of mine came out of the woodwork to surprise me., an e-card site, of which I was a customer some years ago, was hacked and details from their database were stolen.

I had sent a couple of their e-cards to friends around a decade ago – so had set up a profile, that I had since forgotten completely about. My details were taken and it just so happened that my password had, coincidentally, done a 10 year cycle and, after changes every few months, was now exactly the same as it had been at the time of setting up my Care2 account.

This meant that the hacker could then access my Hotmail account – and all the personal information held in the emails within it – as well as numerous other social network and communication sites.

Fortunately I heard about the hack quickly and changed each of my passwords – all to something different from the other – even if it is only a slight variation.

Lesson to be learned: delete unused, dormant profiles. An unused profile is basically a database of your information just waiting to be stolen, and as you never use the site, you might never know it had been breached.

Additionally, having the same password for everything is never a safe option – if one profile is compromised, it is then child’s play to access every one of them.

Also changes in terms and conditions could mean that legacy data is being used by companies to for marketing purposes. An old MySpace page may, through a change of terms and conditions, mean that your old details could be used also.

Only having profiles for sites that you use regularly will reduce the risk of your data being stolen without you knowing about it and having different passwords for each will make it all the more difficult for cyber criminals to access more of your personal information.

Here are our top tips for password safety:

  • Use a mix of upper and lowercase character, numbers and symbols – Af197”£
  • The longer the better, a phrase would be ideal such as: ILoveLiv3rPO0LFc185
  • Change your passwords regularly
  • No dictionary listed words or obvious passwords, eg: Password, 123456, drowssap…
  • No dates of birth, initials, names or anything that would be easy to guess from a social media profile, eg: Alice1987
  • Only keep profiles for sites that you are actively using.