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Secure Communications
Secure Devices
Secure Online Activities
Threats
Backups
Mobile Device Security
Operating System Updates
Passwords
Personal Firewall
Safe and Secure PC Disposal
Security of Other Devices
Smartphone Security
Voice-Over-IP (VOIP)
Passwords

What are they?

Passwords are your Identity.
Let’s make no mistake about it. Passwords are about your identity. We tend to reveal ourselves in our passwords. We often choose the name or birth date of a loved one; we use our address, telephone number, or even our banking PIN number; we use the name of a favourite pop-star, actor, or football team. There are those who are wise enough to avoid any personal references but will choose a word that is too short, a dictionary word, a name or word spelled backward.

Passwords are intended to give access to a wide variety of computing services. Every time you connect, you must provide the magic word; you must prove you are who you say you are. Should someone else guess or steal your password, they can masquerade as you, which means they would then have access to your files, your e-mail, your funds, confidential information, and much more. They could modify or destroy your files, send threatening or offensive emails in your name, or subscribe to unwanted services for which you'd have to pay. For these reasons, the security of your passwords is one of the most important cornerstones of information security. It can’t be over emphasised.

PINs (Personal Identity Numbers)
Throughout Ireland, 4 digit PINs are the standard method for access to many of your financial transactions. Credit cards, Debit Cards (Laser), Internet banking, your weekly Lottery and even Mobile Phones all rely on a simple 4 digit PIN. A few simple steps will ensure the security of your transactions.

How do passwords work?

A password is a form of secret authentication data that is used to control access to a computing resource. The password is kept secret from those not allowed access, and those wishing to gain access are tested on whether or not they know the password and are granted or denied access accordingly.

The use of passwords goes back to ancient times. Sentries guarding a location would challenge for a password. They would only allow a person in if they knew the password. In modern times, passwords are used to control access to protected computer operating systems, mobile phones, automated teller machines (ATMs), etc. A typical computer user may require passwords for many purposes: logging in to computer accounts, retrieving e-mail from servers, accessing files, databases, networks, web sites, and even reading the morning newspaper online.

Warning Signs or Symptoms that your password is compromised.
• You’ve logged onto a website or replied to an email and disclosed personal information including passwords and user names but something doesn’t feel right. Remember, legitimate companies will NEVER EVER require your password or PIN number.
• You get complaints about non-delivery or non-payment on goods you had nothing to do with.
• Your credit card/laser card has an unrecognised item on the bill. Always check your statements.
• You can’t log into a site using your normal password and you’ve double-checked and triple-checked you’ve inserted the correct user name and password. It may be the case that a criminal or malicious individual has logged in as you and changed your password.
• Your friends are upset at the message on your phone answering service. For example your Mobile Phone has a standard default Pin that enables a legitimate or malicious person log on to your message centre and change your message details. Always change the default PIN that comes with your mobile phone.

What NOT to do?

Don’t use weak passwords
Avoid weak passwords. This means:
• Using no password at all or using the Default password.
• Using a commonplace dictionary word will be easy to crack.
• Something that is easy to work out with a little background knowledge. For example: favourite football team, birthday, spouse's name etc.
• The most common password is ‘Password’ so that’s an obvious one to avoid.
• Never write a password down.
What does a Poor Password look like?

A password should never be something that is easy to guess.
Trafford – Anfield – Croke Park
Man Utd. – Pool – Dubs – the cats
Gaillimh, Atha Cliath , Pairc an Crocaigh
Granny Mary – Uncle Jack – Aunty Phil
1 May 56 – 2 Jan 07 - KatieJan04 (or variations thereof)
Sophia Loren – Paul Newman – Brad Pitt etc etc

PINs
0000, 1111, 1234, 6789

• Never use the same PIN you received when opening the account, or that comes with your phone or PDA
• Never use the same PIN across all your accounts, credit card, Phone, Laser, etc?
• Never write your PIN down or carry it around in your wallet or diary?



• When you decide on a password, make sure it can't be easily guessed.
• If you think there's even a chance someone else might know your password, change it immediately.
• Make sure no one is standing near you when you type your password, and guard your PIN when you enter it at an ATM or in a store.
• Never disclose your passwords to anyone else.
• Don't enter your password or PIN when others can see what you are typing. Remember a malicious user with a legitimate password will cause the most damage.
• Use different passwords for different services and accounts. In particular have a unique password for banking sites.
• Change your passwords regularly.
• Never recycle passwords (e.g. password2, password3).
• Never write passwords down.
• NEVER send your password in an email or reveal it over the phone. No reputable firm will ask you to do this.

So what is a good password? A line of a poem or the line of a song is a good choice. Join two unrelated words with a punctuation character. Replace vowels with numbers.

Here are some examples.
• Tabl3&Cha1r or $umm3rt1m3
• Use a phrase that is unique to you – for example " I am married with two children John and Mary" translates to Iamw2cJ&M. Easy to remember, impossible to guess.
• Is at least seven characters long. Longer passwords are harder to guess or break.
• Contains a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and keyboard symbols (i.e. ! @
$ % &?).

• However, be aware that some of these punctuation marks may be difficult to enter on foreign keyboards if you are travelling.
• Change your password regularily.

Password security is easy. It just takes a little getting used to. If you can remember these tips your password will remain safe and sound.


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