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Ask a Trooper: Why '123456' is Not a Good Password

The following article was written by Michigan State Trooper Mike Sura, who answers questions about Michigan law in a weekly column.

123456, I bet your wondering what that number is. Some of you may be wondering how Sgt. Sura knows my password to my computer. Yep, that’s right it is the most commonly used computer password for the year of 2013.

Some of my other favorites were; password, 123abc, iloveyou, adobe123, and 111111. All of these passwords were in the top ten.

The United States government faces 10 million hacking attempts per day; Facebook reports 600,000 hacking attempts per day that is why even your simple password needs to be strong. 

Your computer does not have the information the U.S. Government computer systems have or Facebook’s, but it does probably contain the most important information to you, your information. 

Think of the internet like going to the mall. You would not leave your purse or wallet in your car at the mall with your doors unlocked. You would not walk around the mall with your cash and credit cards in your hand. We wouldn’t tell sales clerks or people we just met our home address or give them your social security number. We protect our information from strangers. So why on the computer do we make simple passwords that are easily defeated? 

We are overloaded at work and home with information protection options and requests to make passwords. People may also think that the information being protected is not that critical. We also can’t remember all the passwords we have so we use the same one over and over.

Here are some things to think about. Most people make passwords that are based on a family member’s name, pet, favorite sports team, or hobby. You must put a little thought into the password. Never use personal information. With the dissemination of information there may be more about you on the internet then you realize. Try Googling yourself sometime and see what turns up. Use longer passwords. The more characters involved the harder it can be to “crack”. Keep your passwords in a secure location. Do not keep them on your computer. If your computer, I Pad, I phone, smart phone etc… is stolen you may lose more than just that 
item.

Don’t use the same password over and over. A hacker knows that if it worked once why wouldn’t they try it again for a different account or even try a variation of that password. 

Include numbers, symbols, upper and lower case numbers. This again makes the password harder to solve.

The toughest passwords to beat though are the ones that are completely random. I know these are also the toughest to remember. Write them down and keep them safe at your house. Don’t share your passwords with others and don’t remain permanently signed into websites. Make sure to logout of websites, especially ones you have just visited and are not familiar with. There are several different ways hackers capture passwords, and use the 
information to steal your money, identity, and peace of mind. Don’t make it easier for them by using a simple password. 

If you have a questions or comments please email them to 
askatrooper12@gmail.com, or mail them to Ask A Trooper, Michigan State Police – Brighton Post, 4337 Buno Road, Brighton, MI 48116.

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