You’ve probably seen or heard of the myriad of recent news headlines where popular organizations like Twitter or Evernote have been hacked. These organizations assure us that our data is not compromised, and advise us to change our passwords or they promptly change our passwords for us to reduce the amount of damage a hacker can do. There is often more to the story, and even passwords we think are quite clever may be cracked with relative ease. The blog Ars Technica featured a couple of stories recently about passwords, which I recommend you read. There are a few examples of presumably safe passwords that were cracked with relative ease. The first article described how a blog editor managed to crack passwords with some basic tools, and can be found here. The second is a follow-up article, where the consulting hackers took a shot at the same list. You can view that one here. They are both fairly detailed but I encourage you to read all the way to the end.
There is a convenient graphic that illustrates the complexity of certain passwords, which I also encourage you to read. It can be found here.
Safe passwords are hard(er) to crack. You cannot rely on a website to properly encrypt your password, as we have seen in the news so often lately. Password managers can be a useful tool to generate random passwords for you, if you are concerned you cannot come up with a good password. The downside is that these passwords will be nearly impossible to remember, which then requires a master password that you can remember. There are a number of password applications out there, KeePass and LastPass among the more popular options. Which one you choose is up to you. Be sure to look for apps for your chosen smartphone as well, so you can be safe from whatever device you are using.
Our own Julie Tausend also recently wrote a post on information security. In it, you’ll find links to university services and policies that can be useful to you in securing your information. You can also go straight to the source for passwords and other types of security at community.pepperdine.edu/it/security.
Be safe out there, and be sure to CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS!