Ask a Geek: Password Strength

Q: Hi Meaghan,

I’m wondering if you can offer me any advice, seeing as you know about computery things: yesterday, someone hacked into my ebay account and used my paypal to purchase a $750 cellphone. Luckily I got the email notifaction of the purchase in time, and went to my bank and blocked the transaction before the money was removed. I’ve since closed that chequing account, so my paypal is defunct. I’ve also changed all my passwords to various sites to new and different things.

but, do you know of any good and trustworthy anti-spyware programs? or anything else I should do to help ensure that that doesn’t happen again? any advice would be most appreciated.

A: That’s a drag, but good fortune to have caught it in time.

My advice for passwords is multi-characters.
Here is a good example, but you will have to apply it to something meaningful, because the most common password is still ‘password’:
P@s$w0rd!

It’s a combo of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and special characters… unfortunately, not every site allows you to use special characters, so I compromise with upper/lowercase and numbers. Ebay definitely allows for maximum protection, because it is so target.

The reason for this is because people use computer programs to hack passwords. It’s called ‘brute force’, basically, a script that makes up millions of combinations per minute runs against your password. The more tricks you throw at it, the less likely it will be to succeed. If you were running a high secure password already, I can’t imagine how it would get hacked.

You might want to do some research on how people hack into ebay accounts. It looks like some hacker name ‘Vladuz’ has infiltrated ebay in the past nabbing 7000+ accounts, but that was ’07. Here is a google search on ‘hack ebay’… perhaps you will learn something from the ‘how to hack ebay’ youtube video?

Secondly, free software:

CCleaner: www.ccleaner.com/
Crap Cleaner is a serious anti-malware tool… covers all that you need for personal computing.

I hope you found this useful!

 

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