How to choose a password to protect emails and personal data

After the cases of Yahoo! and the private photos of Pippa Middleton ended up on the net, here are some tips to defend against violations by hackers and cybercriminals.

We keep our jewels in banks, safes, cavities, hidden corners of our home. Yet, very often, we leave at the mercy of anyone the most dear to us in life: our privacy, our sensitive data, that intimacy that we protect with a simple word .

More and more people end up in the crosshairs of hackers, not only celebrities, like Jennifer Lawrence and Pippa Middleton , but above all ordinary people. You don’t need a hacker to enter an email or a cloud, that virtual cloud used to save photos, videos, address books, e-mail messages. Most of the time it is enough to guess a password to take control of a person’s life, to locate it through the smartphone, read messages, steal photos and videos: it is from that moment that the nightmare begins for many.

The first rule to keep photos, videos and personal data as safe as possible is to choose a word, or rather a phrase, that apparently does not make sense . A password like this: “M1cH1Am () nO * Jo77Y”. The phrase “They call me Jolly” has been inserted as a sort of graphic representation, with numbers and symbols in place of letters (the i becoming one, or the double parenthesis representing the A). When opening an account, you are asked to enter security questions, in case you forget your password: always avoid the suggested questions, such as the classic “your mother’s maiden name” and type your answer, using the same characters graphics inserted in the choice of password. To check the effectiveness of a keyword ( not your own) you can go to this site , where you can enter a random password and check how long it takes to be guessed or cracked by a hacker.

The second rule – according to a group of experts who taught a course at the prestigious Columbia University in New York – is to change passwords frequently, at least once a month, and use a different password for each email, iCloud, or Dropbox account . But how do you remember, for example, five or six different passwords written with characters, numbers and symbols? There are software like KeePassXthat allow you to periodically generate, store and change all your passwords. KeePassX works offline, disconnected from the Internet: the password archive is protected by a master key, the only one you need to remember as recovery is not provided, and it is protected by 256-bit encryption. In short, it cannot be hacked by amateur hackers. Never save passwords in a password-protected Word document: there are software, available online and easy to use, with which you can unlock a `.doc´ file in a few moments.

The third rule is to avoid accessing your email and cloud accounts from shared computers, or when connected to a public Wi-Fi . A hacker with some experience can easily see the password and intercept messages and data exchanged.


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