Tech Tip: The Importance of Unique Passwords

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October is Cyber Security Awareness Month. Courtesy Department of Homeland Security.
A complex password is a necessity in the current age of cyberthreats, data breaches and other security incidents. Those of us who live in reality also know how hard it is to keep the seemingly hundreds of passwords straight, secure and different.

Wait, what’s that? All of your passwords aren’t different?

Why is having different passwords so important? When an online retailer, or a website, gets hacked, oftentimes all you hear in the news is about how many credit cards were lost or what the financial damage was.

You rarely hear about the user accounts that were compromised. However, if you have an account on a compromised website, the username and password you used very possibly could be published and available to anybody who wants to look at it at on the internet.

A clever crook knows that you probably use the same password on the compromised website as you do on your eBay, Amazon or other online account that may have a bank account tied to it. There’s a good enough chance that they’re likely to try it anyway.

Sure enough, when you used the same password on your eBay account that you also used to set up an account on the compromised website to reserve hotel rooms, buy clothes or whatever else, the hacker now has your eBay credentials.

It is possible to keep the password madness under control. There are tricks to having unique but memorable passwords. You might be surprised by how easy it really is. The bottom line is that no matter how much of a pain it is, it is very important to have different passwords for each online account.

Alan Edwards, CISM, is chief information officer at Computerware, Inc., in Vienna, Virginia.

 

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