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How to Choose a Secure Password

Choosing a safe password is the key to protecting your computer data and/or your online activities.Here are some tips for choosing and managing your passwords.

Do NOTs:

- Do NOT use a password which is the same as your login or screen name. Most hackers try this first!

- Do NOT use your girlfriend/boyfriend/partner's name. Most hackers try this second. You are especially vulnerable if you partner happens to have a common name…

- Do NOT use an easily guessable piece of information about you (like part of your AOL or online profile) as your password

- Do NOT use a common English word as you password. Preferably do NOT use a English word at all. Hackers have access to dictionaries, and automated programs can work through these dictionaries, trying every single word!

- Do NOT use a sequence of keys on your keyboard, such 'qwerty' or 'asdf'.

- Do NOT store your passwords on your computer. If you need to write them down to remember them, then write them down on paper, and keep it as safe as you would keep your other personal information/assets (like cash or credit cards).

- Do NOT fall for: Fraudsters often send out official-looking emails to request your confidential information - one of their most common tactics is to use such emails to send people to a fake web site (that looks exactly like the official web site) and get people to "log-in", thus capturing their account user ID and password information.


- Change your password regularly.

- Use a mix of letters and digits in your password. Preferably use a mix of upper and lower case letters, if the computer/service in question allows it.

- Change your password(s) regularly.

- Use different passwords for difference services.

Use this points
Identity thieves sometimes used spoofs and trickery to obtain personal information. Identity thieves using these spoofing methods pretend to be an official authority, bank or company in order to build up your trust, and may go to considerable lengths to reproduce company logos, correspondence and web sites so that they appear to be the real official organization.

It is particularly common for thieves to take advantage of telephone, mail surveys or emails, as this minimizes their risk of being caught by the authorities, and because it allows them to catch people off-guard. However, you should be aware that these methods of communication are not secure, and are not generally used by governments, banks or companies to obtain personal identity information. Any approach by these means ought to raise a "Scam!" warning in your mind.

One such scam that has become common in the internet age are so-called "phishing" scams. These campaigns use official-looking emails to request your confidential information. A particularly common tactic is to use such emails to send people to a fake web site (that looks exactly like the official web site) and get people to "log-in" (thus capturing their account user ID and password).

For trusting people encountering them for the first time, these phishing emails can be difficult to deal with, because they usually imply threats of account closure or similar consequences if no action is taken. They have become a routine part of using email for most of us "old hands", and it is easy to overlook how credible they may appear to people who are new to using emails and who have had few exposures to identity thieves in the "off line" world.

Some simple methods of reducing your risk of being taken by such phishing scams are:-

  • Be suspicious of all emails that you receive purporting to be from your bank, credit card company or other financial institutions. Sender addresses can easily be faked! If you have any doubt at all about any such email, contact the relevant organization directly, and confirm the email is genuine, before responding

  • Many of the spoofing operations are carried out from non-English speaking countries, and so look out for spelling or grammar errors which give the game away.

  • Do not click on links in emails. Instead manually type in the bank of financial institution's URL into your web browser's address bar.

  • Before entering personal information (especially logging in), carefully check your web browser contains the correct company's URL in the address bar. Phishers will often try to use URL s that look superficially similar to the real company's, for example, the number 0 instead of the letter O.
Identity thieves do target the more trusting and innocent of us, and perhaps those of us who are more naive or gullible. For a long time business has been built on trust and honest face-to-face dealings, but the internet particularly has opened up opportunities for identity thieves to reach out to us anonymously across international borders. People new to the internet have to learn to manage these risks.

Another way that you can also lose your credit card details is by unintentionally giving away your personal details to an identity thief. Make sure you have confidence in vendors you deal with over telephone or internet. Ensure the transaction is through a reputable company, and in the case of internet transactions, make sure it uses a secure transaction page (beginning https://)?

Merchants accepting credit card have their reputation to take care of, as well needing to perform honestly if they are to continue to deal with the card issuing companies, so they have strong incentives take a lot of care over providing a secure and honest service. By far the majority can be trusted. The risk is greatest if you are not dealing with a genuine merchant but with an identity thief pretending to be a merchant.