WJTV News Channel 12 - USF Cybersecurity experts offer advice for strong passwords

USF Cybersecurity experts offer advice for strong passwords

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Do you ever change your passwords? How long are they and do you think they are hacker-proof?

Hackers are now using password-cracking software and weak passwords are their target.

Sri Sridharan is the Managing Director of Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He knows a lot about passwords.

Sridharan says "passwrd" is the most common password that people use. Short, of course, for the word password.

"Next is 1-2-3-4-5-6 and guess where they find your passwords most of the time? Sticky pads on your monitor or under your keyboard," says Sridharan.

He says strong passwords and keeping them safe are a must. Experts say your passwords should not contain your spouse's name, your kids' names, a hobby or a simple pattern. That information is too easy for hackers to guess. Personal information is often publicly available.

Jeremy Rasmussen is a Cybersecurity Professor at USF. He knows what hackers can do, because he can do it too. He can't stress the importance of strong passwords enough.

"I personally use at least a 12 character password with a combination of upper and lower case numbers and special characters. I do not use the same password for any two systems," says Rasmussen.

The strongest passwords are long. They contain a mix of numbers, both lower case and upper case numbers and special characters. You should also try not to use words found in the dictionary. Random passwords are better.

When it comes to creating passwords here are some tricks-

  • Spell words backwards. For example, New York would become kroYweN.
  • Substitute numbers for letters, like using a zero to replace an "O".
  • Randomly throw in some capital letters or try using an acronym for a phrase that's easy for you to remember. Fridays are my favorite day of the week would become "famfdotw."

Sridharan sums it up this way. "It's better to be pro active than reactive."

Here are a couple websites that can help you pick passwords:


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