Hackers are cracking more and more of our supposedly secret computer passwords by the minute — but there are several easy steps that can be taken to dramatically cut the odds of being victimized.
First and foremost — technology website ArsTechnica.com and TheAtlanticWire.com suggest — always create passwords that are more than six characters long.
The reason being that anything less makes it much more manageable, mathematically, for cyber thieves to decipher. In fact, one password expert with the Stricture Consulting Group was able to hack a whopping 62 percent of a group of passwords with six or less characters.
Seven- and eight-character passwords are more secure from hackers — but not that much, experts say.
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What's more, a technique known as "salting" — in which sites add random numbers to passwords making them tougher to crack — doesn't really work. It slows down hackers, but doesn't stop them.
Experts also suggest that real words be avoided in passwords. So many people use common words that they are easily guessable.
The bottom line: for maximum safety, use a password with a minimum of 11 characters, as it becomes exponentially harder to crack a code after 8 characters, and very tough at 11.
ArsTechnica.com recommends computer users "take pains to make sure their passwords are a minimum of 11 characters, contain upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and letters, and aren't part of a pattern."
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