Computer security is more important than ever these days and one of the most simple things you can do to protect yourself is come up with a password that is not easy to guess. Sure, it's tempting to come up with something easy for your own benefit; with all of passwords we have to remember these days, you probably find yourself forgetting your passwords if you don't keep careful documentation of them, but an easy password is like an invitation to anyone looking to steal your information.
According to researchers at the University of Maryland's James Clark School of Engineering in College Park, unsecured computers are hacked into over 2,000 times a day or every 39 seconds. Study leader Michel Cukier says it's a lot more common than you think, "Most of these attacks employ automated scripts that indiscriminately seek out thousands of computers at a time, looking for vulnerabilities. Our data provide quantifiable evidence that attacks are happening all the time to computers with Internet connections. The computers in our study were attacked, on average, 2,244 times a day."
Hackers are experts at coming up with passwords. For example, many people use their user name as their password. If you think you're being clever, guess again. 43% of the time, hackers are able to guess passwords by simply guessing that it's the user name. So what other kind of passwords are common and easily guessed? Below is a list of the ten most common passwords:
- User Name
- User Name with 123 at the end
- the word "password"
If any of these sound familiar, you probably need to change your information immediately. In addition, you might want to reconsider your user name if it's one of these top ten common user names:
Once a hacker gains access to your computer, any number of things can happen. According to the study, the first things they do are check your software configuration, change your password, check your hardware and software configuration again, download a file, install the downloaded program and run the downloaded program.
But why are they doing this? Often, they are creating a "botnet." A botnet monitors your computer and reports back to the hacker. They can lead to fraud or identity theft, disrupt other networks or damage computer files, and lots of other criminal activity.
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