Many tech bloggers write about the need for strong passwords. It makes sense that we should have strong, not easily guessed passwords, but what defines strong? How easy or difficult is it for a cybercriminal to hack your password?
One common technique used by hackers is called a brute-force attack. A brute-force attack is a trial-and-error method of guessing your password. Hackers use specially-crafted programs to cycle through dictionary-based words, non-dictionary words and all possible combinations of alpha-numeric characters in an attempt to glean the “key” protecting your sensitive data. The limiting factor is compute power. The more processing power the hacker can leverage, the faster your data can be hacked.
Passwords… Not exactly a topic that generates much excitement. Yet in a world of increasing Internet connectedness, passwords are very important—one of several key security layers used to protect our sensitive data.
The first password I remember ever having to worry about came from a temp job in the early nineties–my first sustenance work as a NYC starving actor. I was hired to inventory the computer systems of a Bank of America corporate office and was assigned an account on their local area network (LAN) to record the inventory information I was to collect.
This was my first time logging into anything. The first time I needed a password for anything–there wasn’t even a password on my obsolete-the-day-I-bought-it Mac Classic.