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How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #4 - Ask the Geek Ask the Geek

How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #4

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In How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #3, I stressed the importance of changing the default username and passwords of all configurable network devices. That’s good advice. But a weak password, one that is easily guessable, is almost as bad as no password at all.

For example, if you use a password that conforms to common patterns that most people tend to use, it can be easily guessed. According to Wikepedia,

Repeated research has demonstrated that around 40% of user-chosen passwords are readily guessable because of the use of these patterns:

  • blank (none)
  • the word “password”, “passcode”, “admin” and their derivates
  • the user’s name or login name
  • the name of their significant other or another relative
  • their birthplace or date of birth
  • a pet’s name
  • automobile licence plate number
  • a simple modification of one of the preceding, such as suffixing a digit or reversing the order of the letters.
  • a row of letters from a standard keyboard layout (eg, the qwerty keyboardqwerty itself, asdf, or qwertyuiop)

So, the lesson here is simple, and becomes Maxim #4:

Use an unguessable, or difficult-to-guess password always.

What’s an unguessable password? I’ll cover that in a future post.

Cheers!
The Geek

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