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Protecting Your Passwords
By: KC Morgan
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    Table of Contents:
  • Protecting Your Passwords
  • Secure Passwords
  • Choosing Passwords
  • Choosing Security Answers

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    Protecting Your Passwords - Secure Passwords

    (Page 2 of 4 )

    Some Web sites (like gauge the "strength" of your password upon creation. Many online aficionados agree that online passwords should be at least 4 characters long and contain a mix of both letters and numbers. It's also recommended that you avoid using passwords which contain your name, account name, birth date or other commonly-used passwords.

    You probably already know these things, however, and you probably know them because so many sites offer short tips and information on creating a "strong" password. So you work and you wrack your brain to come up with something you're sure no one else will ever think of. The only trouble is, you can't ever think of it, either.

    Forgot Your Password?

    Again, many different Web sites require you to create an account for many different reasons. Since you've also been advised not to use the same password for all your various online accounts, you try to maintain unique passwords for every one.

    The passwords you create, of course, follow all the basic rules: they're complex, filled with a mix of characters and damned hard to guess. Unfortunately, all this conspires against you to make them extremely hard to remember as well.

    This is why most online sign-up sheets also contain a very helpful link. In bright blue, ready to aid you with your memory lapse, is a promising little link called Forgot your ID or Password?

    This pretty link may look innocuous - even filled with hope and salvation - but it's one of the biggest security holes online. And it's the easiest "in" any identity thief is ever going to find when it comes to your online accounts.

    Many sites offering free email accounts, such as Yahoo (pictured above) will ask you to choose a special security question in the event that you forget your password. You choose the question, tell the site the answer, and this is what you're asked when you click that oh-so-inviting Forgot Your Password? link.

    The theory behind this, of course, is that only you will know the answer to this very personal question. Upon hitting the correct answer to this question, you'll be able to quickly and effortlessly change the password to something more memory-friendly.

    Or...someone else could. If they somehow know the answer to your secret security question, anyone could change your password and suddenly lock you out of your own account. They'll also be able to run amok with the account, enjoying and using all those features and tools you use yourself. In the case of e-mail, for instance, they'll have access to the contents of your in-box, address book, perhaps even a public profile or other site extras.

    Many other kinds of sites which boast this forgetting fail-safe clause simply send your original password right to the e-mail account you have on file - so if someone does get access to your e-mail, they could potentially gain access to several different online accounts which once belonged to you.

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