5. July 2011, 12:13 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

People are increasingly connected to some information network or other, be it the office, at home, an airport lounge or your local coffee shop. With this increased connectivity comes increased risk.

While people are gradually becoming aware of better password choices, progress is still painfully slow - as the recent Sony intrusions have shown. Many people used weak passwords and equally large number used them on multiple sites, compounding the problem. T go into all the advice in choosing a strong password would, at this point be redundant. What is needed is more awareness of the issues surrounding password choice, not only for the end user but for system administrators as well.

When choosing security questions, either as an extra access authentication step, or as a step in doing password resets, carefully consider the questions used. As social media continues to expand rapidly, more and more information on a particular individual is likely available somewhere if a party is interested enough to look for it. Traditional models of using basic biographical data for security questions is no longer tenable. Th names of parents, pets, family occupations, are all now commonly shared on many venues. Likewise favorite movies, music, sports affiliations and fandom are even more widely shared. The use of such easily obtained information in formulating security questions should be avoided. In formulating such screening consider if and how easily such information could be found on-line. For the end user that encounters such questions, use something for an answer that is wrong or obscure but that you can remember, use a password manager application or device or write down and put in a safe place.

One step that many people never think about is visual security. Everyday millions of people use smartphones, laptops and desktop computers while in easy view of others, often complete strangers, and enter passwords and other sensitive data. Given the small size of many digital cameras, the improvements in cellular telephone cameras, and the increasing use of camera equipped netbooks and tablets visual eavesdropping is a serious security risk. Be aware of your surroundings, and who might be watching. The use of privacy screens and angling displays away from possible viewers helps reduce the risk.

In the end it comes down to personal vigilance, in both how you interact with computer systems, and what of your information is available to others. A little circumspection can go a long way to helping keep your passwords, and your accounts and data safe.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: passwords,awareness,security questions,risk



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