Global Fraud Focus

Use my easy method to produce and protect your passwords

Passwords are an integral part of our lives. We use them to gain access to our phones and computers and to withdraw cash or pay bills. They help keep our personally identifiable information and finances safe.

However, fraudsters commit identity thefts, account takeovers and many other frauds by obtaining victims' passwords via shoulder surfing, social engineering, phishing or other illicit means.

Media headlines report password hacks every day. Ashley Madison, that website catering to adulterers, lost 11 million passwords to hackers. (See These Hacked Ashley Madison Passwords are NSFW … or Anywhere Else, Really, by Lulu Chang, Sept. 11, 2015, Digital Trends.) Chang reports that 120,511 customers of the site used "123456" as their password. No wonder they got hacked!

Many companies use biometrics techniques ranging from the standard loop, whorl and arch patterns of our fingerprints to the identification of our faces or corneas. But biometrics identification is still in its infancy, so traditional passwords likely will be around for years.

We're always reminding our clients and employees to protect their data. We tell them, "You lock up your houses and cars; do the same with your personal data." But how safe are our passwords?

Of course, we know we shouldn't use a single master password, and we should regularly change our passwords. We also should avoid useless passwords, such as password, default, admin, qwerty, favorite football teams or players, family members' names, reversed birth dates, pets' names or even futilely adding numbers at the end of weak passwords.

Hundreds of for-profit companies offer to provide us with strong, secure passwords and to store them for us. But have you ever created a robust password and months later spent hours trying to remember it? I have!

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