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  Oracle Tips by Burleson

Web Stalkers
Chapter 1 -
The Illusion of Anonymity

Analyze Passwords

There are many things to consider when making passwords more secure.  A person should choose a password that is not easily associated with something readily identified with them.  For example, avoid family member’s names, pet names, favorite sports or activity, hometown, etc.  Choose a word that is not in the dictionary.  There are hacker utilities available that will run through every word in the dictionary, trying all of them systematically in an attempt to gain access to an account.  Adding numbers is another common way people change passwords.  Someone might use “January10” for their password because that was the date they created it, and when the account requires a password change, they may very well simply change the password to “January11” to make remembering it easier.  Hackers will frequently move from a dictionary attack to a modified attack in which they add numbers to the end of each word in the dictionary.  This slows down the process due to the large number of attempts required.  However, hackers will sometimes modify this to use the dictionary words in order of popularity.  There are lists of commonly used passwords, which hackers use to make their attack faster.

Selecting a password that is not a dictionary word and includes numbers does not necessarily guarantee safety.  The next tool that hackers can use is a brute-force attack.  This attack tries every combination of letters and numbers until it finds a valid combination.  This means that if this attack is used, “my1dog” is just as likely to be hacked as “password.”  The best defense against a brute-force attack is password length and alphabet selection.  A four-character password will take less time to hack than one that is eight-characters long.  A password involving only lower-case letters is less secure than one using lower-case letters and numbers. 

Figure 1.6 shows the maximum time needed to complete a brute-force attack.  Notice that simply going from a six to a seven-character password using only lower-case letters increases the time from less than one hour to nearly one day.  Adding numbers to the password increases the time to nine days.

The above text is an excerpt from:

Web Stalkers
Protect yourself from Internet Criminals & Psychopaths
ISBN 0-97-45993-9-5

by Donald K. Burleson, Stephen Andert

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