Internet Identity Theft Protection: Hacked Passwords and Online Identity Theft

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If you have trouble remembering long or complex passwords, your options include using a passphrase or password story to help you remember, and using a password manager. A passphrase is a short phrase that you will find easy to remember but would be almost impossible for an identity theft intruder to predict.

Once you have such a phrase, you can then easily create a complex but memorable password simply by using the first character or letter in each word of the phrase.

For example, the phrase "I graduated from Ohio State in 1980" could create a password "IgfOSi1980" using all the first letters and numbers. The results are a ten-character password that contains upper-case letters, lower-case letters, and numbers, is easy for you to remember, and should be impossible for a password hacker to guess.

And if you replace the first letter "I" and the "i" in "in" with the symbol "!" you create a password that's even harder to guess. And you can also write down the password in the knowledge that an online identity theft perpetrator is unlikely to recognize it as a password.

Password managers

You won't get far on the Internet these days without a password. Given the value of hacked passwords and the increasing frequency of Internet identity theft, the more complex your password is, the better. But with so many passwords and so many security challenges, how can users keep track of it all?

For password protection, try using a password manager — software that will automatically create new and random passwords, store them securely, and even automatically pop them up when you need them (to access an online account, for example).

Popular (and free) password manager programs include Password Safe and KeePass, both available from Sourceforge.net. Both are very powerful and thoroughly tested, but you might need to spend a few minutes getting familiar with all their powerful features. Another popular free program is available from Roboform, although they do have a more powerful full version that they will try to persuade you to buy.

A good password manager will offer a number of important features that will enable you to:

  • Generate secure random passwords.
  • Encrypt passwords and personal data.
  • AutoSave passwords in a browser.
  • AutoFill passwords to a login form.
  • Fill personal info into online forms.
  • Save offline passwords and notes.
  • Back up, restore, and print your passwords.
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