If You use these Passwords, You will get hacked

Have you heard of iDict? It’s a tool that hackers can use to get passwords via what’s called brute force attacks. It’s designed to crack into iCloud’s passwords, and supposedly it can circumvent Apple’s anti-brute force attack security.

5DBut iDict doesn’t have as big a bite as you might think. A long, strong password is no match for iDict. But if you have a password that’s commonly used (yes, hundreds of people may have your exact passwords; you’re not as original as you think), then it will be a field day for iDict.

Some examples of passwords that iDict will easily snatch are:

password1, p@ssw0rd, passw0rd, pa55word—let me stop here for a moment. What goes on in the heads of people who use a variation of the word “password” as a password? I’m sure that “pa$$word” is on this list too.

And here are more: Princess1, Michael1, Jessica1, Michelle1 (do you see a pattern here?) and also John3:16, abc123ABC and 12qw!@QW. Another recently popular password is Blink182, named after a band.

Change your password immediately if it’s on this list or any larger list you may come upon. And don’t change it to “passwerdd” or “Metallica1” or a common name with a number after it. Come on, put a little passion into creating a password. Be creative. Make up a name and include different symbols.

For additional security, use two-factor authentication when possible for your accounts.

Though iCloud has had some patch-up work since the breach involving naked photos of celebrities (Don’t want your nude pictures leaking out? Don’t put’em in cyberspace!), iCloud still has vulnerabilities.

And hackers know that and will use iDict. If your password isn’t on the top 500 list from github.com, but you wonder if it’s strong enough, change it. If it has a keyboard sequence or word that can be found in a dictionary, change it. If it’s all letters, change it. If it’s all numbers, change it.

Make it loooooong. Make it unintelligible. Dazzle it up with various symbols like $, @, % and &. Make it take two million years for a hacker’s automated password cracking tools to stumble upon it.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention.

10 tips to Secure Passwords

Ever wonder just how hackers bust into systems and cause destruction? One reason is because people are still using weak passwords. While your pet’s name and wedding anniversary dates are easy to remember and sentimental to use, this approach makes a hacker’s job all too easy. Here are 10 things you should know about passwords.5D

  1. Never use the same password more than once, because if that account is hacked, and that password is for three other accounts, you’ll get quadruple-hacked.
  2. Think of a memorable phrase, then abbreviate it, such as, “My all time favorite movie is Jaws which I’ve seen 19 times.” The password would then be: MatfmiJwis19t.
  3. Don’t stick to just letters and numbers. A “character” can be any number of signs. For an even stronger password, add some random characters: MatfmiJ&wis19t!
  4. The “dictionary attack” is when a hacker applies software that runs through real words and common number sequences in search of a hit. So if your password is 8642golfer, don’t be surprised if you get hacked.
  5. A super strong password may be 12 characters, but not all 12 character passwords are strong. So though 1234poiuyzxc is long, it contains a number sequence and keyboard sequences. Though longer means more possible permutations, it’s still smart to avoid sequences and dictionary words.
  6. Another tip is to create a password that reflects the account. So for instance, your Amazon account could be MatfmiJ&wis19t!AMZ.
  7. Opt for sites that offer two-step verification. A hacker will need to have possession of your phone or e-mail account in order to use your password, because two-step requires entry of a code that’s sent to your phone or e-mail.
  8. If you struggle to remember your passwords, you can store them in a cloud where there’s two-factor authentication. But don’t stop there; preserve your passwords in hardcopy form.
  9. A password manager will make things much easier. With one master password, you can enter all of your accounts. Google “password manager”.
  10. Don’t check the “remember me” option. Having to type in your password every single time means added protection.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

Change Your Password. World Password Day

We also say we want to be safe online. Yet sometimes our actions betray our words—especially if we’re using simple, short passwords for our online sites. Passwords with less than eight characters are the easiest to crack, especially if they include a proper noun or a word that’s in a dictionary. Hackers especially love passwords of all one character. Lose the “ilovedogs” password please.

WorldPasswordDayTake a look at your passwords. Are they simple and include an actual word, or are they long and unique?  World Password Day. Take the pledge and change your passwords.

And don’t balk about changing your passwords; you must change them to be safe online. Your password is your first line of defense—not only for your online accounts, but also on your devices. Be like Nike and “Just Do It!” Think about this if you’re reluctant to change them:

  •  Research shows that 90% of passwords are vulnerable to hacking
  • The most common password is “123456”  and the second most common password, is “password”
  • 1 in 5 Internet users have had their email or social networking account compromised or taken over without their permission

Now, believe it or not, a password of eight characters, even with various symbols and no dictionary words, can be cracked. However, a password the length of “Earthquake in the Sahara” would take over a million years to unearth. Ladies and gents, size does matter when it comes to passwords.

Ditch your old passwords

They may already be on the black market, and if not, it’s inevitable. Especially in this post Heartbleed time, we need to make sure we all change our passwords.

Think pass-sentence, not password

Just four words (with spaces) will make a killer password. Toss in punctuation. Create a sentence that makes no sense, like “Sharks swimming in the shower” and then add some space, numbers and special characters so it’s “Sh@rks swimming >n The Sh0wer!” That’s a 30-word password, technically known as a passphrase, and beats out #8xq3@2P. And which is easier to remember?

And don’t use something that a person who knows you might be able to guess: If you own five black cats, don’t make a passphrase of “I love black cats.”

Here’s a fun way to make a passphrase.

Make the change

Now that you have a passphrase that will take millions of years to crack, it’s time to make use of it. Sift through all of your accounts and change your passwords, using a different passphrase for each account, and not similar, either, for optimal uncrackability.

Once all of your new passwords (passphrases) are in place, you’ll have peace of mind, knowing that it would take millions of years for these passwords to be cracked.

Remember, there’s no better time than World Password Day to change your password!

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

New year, new Passwords, here’s how

You must change your passwords like you must change your bed sheets. This is not up to negotiation, thanks to the influx of viruses, malware, phishing sites and key loggers.

5DChanging a password means having a new password for all of your accounts rather than using the same password. Imagine what would happen if someone got ahold of your one password—they could get into all of your accounts.

The biggest problem with passwords as far as how easy they can be cracked, is when they have fewer than eight characters, and are an actual word that can be found in a dictionary, or are a known proper name. Or, the password is all the same type of character, such as all numbers. There’s no randomness, no complexity. These features make a hacker’s job easy.

How to change Passwords

  • Each site/account should have a different password, no matter how many.
  • Passwords should have at least eight characters and be a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols that can’t be found in a dictionary.
  • Use a password program such as secure password software.
  • Make sure that any password software you use can be applied on all devices.
  • A password manager will store tons of crazy and long passwords and uses a master password.
  • Consider a second layer of protection such as Yubikey. Plug your flashdrive in; touch the button and it generates a one-time password for the day. Or enter a static password that’s stored on the second slot.
  • Have a printout of the Yubikey password in case the Yubikey gets lost or stolen.
  • An alternative to a password software program, though not as secure, is to keep passwords in an encrypted Excel, Word or PDF file. Give the file a name that would be of no interest to a hacker.
  • The “key” method. Begin with a key of 5-6 characters (a capital letter, number and symbols). For example, “apple” can be @pp1E.
  • Next add the year (2014) minus 5 at the end: @pp1E9.
  • Every new year, change the password; next year it would be @pp1E10. To make this process even more secure, change the password more frequently, even every month. To make this less daunting, use a key again, like the first two letters of every new month can be inserted somewhere, so for March, it would be @pp1E9MA.
  • To create additional passwords based on this plan, add two letters to the end that pertain to the site or account. For instance, @pp1E9fb is the Facebook password.
  • Passwords become vulnerable when the internet is accessed over Wi-Fis (home, office, coffee shop, hotel, airport). Unsecured, unprotected and unencrypted connections can enable thieves to steal your personal information including usernames and passwords.
  • Thus, for wireless connections (which are often not secure), use a VPN—virtual private network software that ensures that anything you do online (downloads, shopping, filling out forms) is secured through https. Hotspot Shield VPN is an example and has a free version, available for Android, iPhone, PC and Mac.
  • Set your internet browsers to clear all cookies and all passwords when you exit. This way, passwords are never retained longer than for the day that you’ve used them.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

Lessons learned from a Password Attack

It’s easy for millions of passwords to be stolen via hacking into Facebook, Twitter and Gmail accounts: It recently happened because malware was unknowingly downloaded into computers worldwide that extracted log-in information. The data was then directed to the hackers’ server, which was tracked to the Netherlands.

5DA password is never 100 percent secure, but instead, more or less secure than others. Passwords can be cracked in many ways:

Cracking security questions. It seems that most people use easily-traceable names for their secret question when registering a password, such as names of family members and schools they attended. This information is often on their social media profiles and, with a bit of legwork, can be figured out. Often, passwords include these names as well.

Simple passwords. The passwords of 123456, abc123, 11111, etc., are easy to type out and are also among the most common, and thus easily figured out. “Princess” and “querty” are also commonly used words.

Using the same passwords for different sites. One-third of data-breach victims in a recent attack had been reusing passwords. Password reuse for social media, banking and e-mail opens the gate to identity theft.

Dictionary attacks. Software exists that will run any word that’s found in a dictionary (or commonly misspelled words) into the password field. If you use these words, the software will eventually score a hit.

Social engineering. This is when a thief tricks a user into revealing a password (often by sending an “urgent” e-mail informing the user to visit a site where he “must” type in his password).

There is still hope that one day a way to design a 100 percent secure password will be developed, perhaps through a fusion of biometrics, multi-factor authentication and image-based access.

What can you do in the meantime?

  • Use non-traceable words for passwords and answers to secret questions.
  • Avoid using passwords that flow easily off your fingertips like 67890, asdfg, etc.
  • Never reuse passwords. Passwords for all accounts should be very different from each other.
  • Invent names for your passwords that can’t be found anywhere. Avoid phonetic variations of common words or proper names. Don’t use backwards-spelled words.
  • Make sure nobody can see you enter your password.
  • Always log off if other people are nearby no matter how briefly you’ll be away.
  • Use up-to-date comprehensive security software.
  • Never use your password on a public computer.

Robert Siciliano, is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto and author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! . Disclosures For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

Passwords: Fingerprint, heartbeat or brainwaves?

There is no such thing as a truly secure password; there are only more secure or less secure passwords. Passwords are currently the most convenient and effective way to control access to your accounts. But passwords are a mess. We have too many; sometimes they are all the same, which makes it easier for a hacker; many passwords are “123456” and easy to crack; and there are numerous ways that a criminal can spy on us to log our keystrokes.


The internet’s weak link is the difficulty in reliably identifying individuals. When online, our identities are determined by IP addresses, cookies, and various “keys” and passwords, most of which are susceptible to tampering and fraud. We need a better strategy.

Currently, positive ID (or “authentication”) is only possible by using a biometric. A biometric can be either static (anatomical, physiological) or dynamic (behavioral). Examples of static biometrics include your iris, fingerprint, face and DNA. Dynamic biometrics include your signature gesture, voice, keyboard and perhaps gait—also referred to as something you are.

Verification, on the other hand, is used when the identity of a person cannot be definitely established. Various technologies are used provide real-time assessment of the validity of an asserted identity. We don’t know who the individual is, but we try to get as close as we can to verify his or her asserted identity. Included in this class are out-of-wallet questions, PINs, passwords, tokens, cards, IP addresses, behavior-based trend data, credit cards, etc. These usually fall into the realm of something you have or something you know.

Biometrics, it seems, is taking on a whole new meaning.

Mashable reports, “A wristband dubbed Nymi confirms a user’s identity via electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors that monitor the heartbeat and can authenticate a range of devices, from iPads to cars. Developers at Bionym, the Toronto-based company that makes the device, say the peaks and valleys of an individual’s heartbeat are harder to imitate than the external features of biometric systems, like fingerprints or facial recognition.”

And then there are “cognitive biometrics”—yes, brainwaves. For example, when signing up for an account, people are provided pictures to look at, then choose one that would allow them access to their account. When they were to log in, they’d be presented with numerous pictures and when the one they chose showed up, their brain would light up a bit, telling the website to allow access. But while the process has been proven to work, people need to wear a helmet that attaches to their scalp to pick up their brainwaves. So it’s not exactly ready for prime time.

What do you think? Would you wear a bracelet that identifies you? Or a tinfoil hat!?

Robert Siciliano, is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto and author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! . Disclosures For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.