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Thursday, April 24, 2014

 
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One Step Ahead: Almanac Security Tips - 2014

In each issue, Penn's Journal of Record, The Almanac publishes helpful tips and hints for dealing with information security and privacy matters. This page is a collection of all those published thus far.
New! You can now receive new One-Step-Ahead Security and Privacy Tips automatically!
You can subscribe via Email or RSS.


Table of Contents (view all)

Security and Privacy Tips for World Travelers
Filing Taxes Online This Year? Take Steps to Protect Your Information!
If your computer runs Windows XP, you must update it now!
Why Should You Report Security Incidents? And How Do You Report One?
Photo and Video Privacy Issues
The Password is Dead, Long Live the Password!
Data Privacy Month: NSA Surveillance Panel at the National Constitution Center
Protecting Your Finances During This Year’s Holiday Shopping Season
Beware of Phishing E-mails in the Wake of Typhoon Haiyan
No E-mail from Penn Will Ask For Your Username/Password or SSN
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act: Does It Apply to Your Website?
October: National Cyber Security Awareness Month; Free Secure Disposal of Paper and Electronics
What Basic Rules Protect Student Information at Penn? (September 2013)
Protecting Privacy and Security on Penn + Box
Security Starts With You


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Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - Almanac Vol. 57, No. 14

Longer, More Complex Passwords = Stronger Passwords: Do the Math!

By "more complex," we simply mean incorporating special non-alphanumeric characters such as @, #, &, +, % and others into your passwords whenever possible. Many of these are simply the shift characters along the top row of your keyboard. "Longer," of course, speaks for itself. Did you know that by simply expanding your password from 8 to 12 (or more) characters and using special characters in addition to alphanumerics (A-Z, a-z, 0-9), you raise the difficulty in cracking that password by a factor of more than one hundred million?

Of course, if you base your password on standard dictionary words (including proper nouns), buzzwords, catchphrases, slang, etc., you give crackers leverage which can greatly reduce the "safety in numbers" that added length and complexity afford. In short, the more random your password appears to be, the less susceptible it is to the educated guesses that crackers program into their cracking dictionaries.

To help provide this randomness, experts continue to recommend that you select your password by thinking of a sentence that has meaning only to you—it can even be nonsensical, as in the well-known example "Orange elephants invade Alaska; film at eleven." To construct your password, take the first letter from each word (maintaining case): OeiAfae. This is pretty strong, but not strong enough. Now, use special characters, digits, punctuation—and even a postal code—to add complexity: OeiAK;f@11:00. Now that's a strong password! Yet, it's still pretty easy to remember. (P.S. —"Orange elephants" is a well-known example, so don't use it for your password.)

Remember, though, even the strongest passwords are worthless if you give them away and/or write them down where people can see them (or will know where to look for them).

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