Passwords are used for everything; we use them for our phones, computers, email, even financial information. Unfortunately, many use the same simple passwords, like 1234 or Password1, for multiple accounts. Simple passwords, even those with special characters, are easier for someone to crack.
Recent guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) advises that password length is much more important than password complexity. Instead of using short complex passwords, use passphrases that combine multiple words and are longer than 15 characters. For example TechTuesday2021Strengthen!
Strong passphrases can also help protect against personal data breaches.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a personal data breach is defined as a leak/spill of personal data which is released from a secure location to an untrusted environment. Also, a security incident in which an individual’s sensitive, protected, or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen, or used by an unauthorized individual.
Arizona reported over a thousand victims of personal data breaches with losses of more than $2 million in 2020, according to IC3. It’s important to note that scammers obtain people’s information in many ways. Sometimes a victim will unintentionally give the scammer their passwords, other times, the criminal is able to crack the code.
The following tips may help protect you and your information from a breach:
- Make sure, at the very least, that your email, financial, and health accounts all have different unique passwords and/or passphrases.
- Make sure your password is as long as the system will allow.
- Set up multi-factor authentication for your accounts.
- Don’t allow password “hints”
If you believe your email or other smart device has been comprised, please contact FBI Phoenix at (623)466-1999. Victims are also encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI at ic3.gov.
For more information on how to protect your voice and your devices, visit, https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/counterintelligence/foreign-influence/protected-voices.
Source: US Department of Justice, “Strong Passphrases and Account Protection” http://www.fbi.gov website. Accessed May 5, 2021. https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/phoenix/news/press-releases/fbi-tech-tuesday-strong-passphrases-and-account-protection
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