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SmartBiz's Keys to Online Success: Use Truly Random Passwords and User Names
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By Carl Weinschenk

Among the worst calamities that can befall any organization is to be hacked by criminals on the Internet. Two of the most common approaches these people employ are called dictionary or brute force attacks.

The two are related and, indeed, are considered synonymous by some. The two focus on computer programs that simply keep trying different possibilities until they find the right combinations and gain entry to a computer system.

It would seem to an outsider that the trillions of possible combinations of numbers, letters and punctuation markets would make it impossible for such programs to work. Unfortunately, users make it easy by not changing default user names (such as "administrator" or "admin") and using easy to remember—and therefore easy to guess—things as birthdates, pet's, spouses' or kids names as the passwords.

Thus, the bad guys (and girls) don’t have to run through truly random combinations. The use of these items as passwords infinitely simplifies the crackers' job.

There are lots of places on the Internet to get advice on the best ways to put together passwords. Some hints: The more characters the better, use a combination of numbers, letters and punctuation marks and, of course, don't use the word "fluffy" or "fido."

Carl Weinschenk is the Editorial Director of SmartBiz.
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