May 07, 2013, 3:46 PM — We've seen too many security breaches, password leaks, and account takeovers recently, and it's only getting easier for hackers to crack large databases of passwords. Although passwords aren't as strong a protection as they used to be, they're still the frontline of our defense against cyber thieves, so it's worth the few minutes it takes to make your password as strong as possible. Today, Change Your Password Day, is the perfect day for that.
Intel and McAfee banded together to name May 7th Change Your Password Day, but in truth, if you're reading this on May 8th or on any other month and day, it's still Change Your Password Day if you haven't thought about your passwords in a while.
As a refresher, Intel's blog notes that length is more important than complexity when choosing a password: "The password 'Br3ak1ead&7' would take a computer three days to crack, at 1,000 guesses per second. Meanwhile, the seemingly simple 'thunder showers before sunset' password, would take the same computer, guessing at the same rate, 550 years to crack." You want to use the strongest possible passwords especially for accounts such as your email address and financial accounts. And never use the same password on multiple sites.
Intel is offering a free password security check tool, with a chance to win an Ultrabook if you share your password-changing pledge on Facebook or Twitter. (Neither are necessary, however.) The password-testing tool is handy for peace of mind, but if you're concerned about Intel retaining your password or sending it over the Internet (the company says they do not), change the password parameters to substitute other vowels and numbers while keeping the basic formula the same. This is something you should do for other password checkers as well.
Read more of Melanie Pinola’s Tech IT Out blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniepinola. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.