Passwords vs Passphrases
One challenge we all face is that cyber attackers have developed
sophisticated and effective methods to brute force (automated guessing)
passwords. This means hackers can compromise your passwords if they are weak or
easy to guess. An important step to protecting yourself is to use strong
passwords. Typically, this is done by creating complex passwords; however,
these can be hard to remember, confusing, and difficult to type. Instead, it is
recommended that you use passphrases--a series of random words or a sentence.
The longer your passphrase is, the stronger it is. The advantage is these are
much easier to remember and type, but still hard for cyber attackers to hack.
Here are some examples:
Reminder: Some MCC applications do not allow the following special
characters in your passwords/passphrases =@#$%&*\/<>
Tips for Using Passphrases Securely
- Use a different passphrase for every account or device you have. For
example, never use the same passphrase for your work or bank account that you
use for your personal accounts, such as Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter. This
way, if one of your accounts is hacked, your other accounts are still safe.
- Never share a passphrase or your strategy for creating them with anyone
else, including coworkers or your supervisor. Remember, a passphrase is a
secret; if anyone else knows your passphrase it is no longer secure.
- Do not use public computers, such as those at hotels or Internet cafes, to
log in to your accounts. Since anyone can use these computers, they may be
infected and capture all your keystrokes. Only log in to your accounts on
trusted computers or mobile devices.
- Be careful of websites that require you to answer personal questions. These
questions are used if you forget your passphrase and need to reset it. The
problem is the answers to these questions can often be found on the Internet,
or even on your Facebook page. Make sure that if you answer personal questions
you use only information that is not publicly available or fictitious
information you have made up.
- Many online accounts offer something called two-factor authentication, also
known as two-step verification. This is where you need more than just your
passphrase to log in, such as a passcode sent to your smartphone. This option
is much more secure than just a passphrase by itself. Whenever possible, always
enable and use these stronger methods of authentication.
- Mobile devices often require a PIN to protect access to them. Remember that
a PIN is nothing more than another password. The longer your PIN is, the more
secure it is. Many mobile devices allow you to change your PIN number to an
actual passphrase or use a biometric, such as your fingerprint.
- If you are no longer using an account, be sure to close, delete, or disable
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