The (Virtual) Keys to Your House


There are few things that we protect more than our keys. I can tell you exactly where my house, car, safe, office, and club keys are at any time. Imagine losing your keys or, worse yet, a time when you actually lost your keys. That hollow sinking queasy feeling in your stomach. Remember that feeling because it's every bit as bad, if not worse if someone gets ahold of your password. Passwords are the keys to our virtual house. Email, documents, banking, credit, and more--all manner of our most personal information.


Since you are reading this, there is no doubt that you know the stress of keeping up with passwords. Whenever you forget how to log into Netflix or your work email, you are prompted to change your password. Oh, and by the way, you can't use any of the last 10 passwords that you used! Don't forget the warning, "Don't use a password on this site that you have used on another site?"



There are many reasons we should care about our passwords (and all the warnings we usually ignore). First, let us take a look at some interesting facts.


1. Over the last decade, the most popular passwords have been: password, iloveyou, abc123, qwerty, and Password1. You may ask, how do you know what the most popular passwords are? Do people actually tell you their passwords? The answer is NO. These are the most stolen passwords on the internet, so the cybersecurity industry knows it's true.


2. In 2020, using readily available computer equipment, simple passwords can be 'cracked' relatively quickly. Cracking, hacking, or brute force attacks are when a computer tries every possible combination until it finally lands on your password.

3. Passphrases are generally accepted as an excellent way to create a secure (unbreakable) password. You may not be able to remember Iwa9843rsd, but you can remember: I work at 9843 riverside drive. By taking the first letter of each word and the address number, you created a password that would take 1000 years for a computer to crack. If you can remember to change the s to a $ (dollar sign), then the password would take 8000 years!


Most websites that house our most personal information will enforce the use of strong passwords. Given the above information, we should be glad that they do!

But this means that criminals are less like to try to crack a password and more likely to try to trick you into giving it to them. People willingly and sometimes urgently hand over their personal information, including their passwords to people with evil intent.


Why would anyone do that, you ask? Read the next Tech Corner post to find out.


Contributed by Jeff, Library Unicorn Technical Support


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