Password Peril: Simplistic Passwords Jeopardize Security

‘No! Wait, wait! I’ll tell.’ King Roland cripples to the threats made against his daughter by the evil Lord Helmet. The passcode for his planet’s entire air supply is at stake, but so is his daughter. ‘The combination is…1, 2, 3, 4, 5.’

In a fluster, Lord Helmet throws back his visor. ‘That’s the stupidest combination I’ve ever heard in my life. That’s the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage.’

President Skruub joins Lord Helmet in the interrogation room and is informed of the victory. ‘That’s amazing! I’ve got the same combination on my luggage’

This is only a scene from the classic comedy ‘Spaceballs,’ but, according to a recent study published in ‘Information Weekly’, this may not be too far from the truth.

Hackers recently stole 28,000 passwords from a popular American website and leaked the contents on the internet for public viewing.

Errata Security, the company conducting the study, analyzed the passwords and discovered some shocking patterns.

They found that 16 percent of passwords contained only the first name of the user or one of their loved ones.

A further 14 percent used easy-to-remember combinations such as ‘12345678’ or ‘QWERTY’ (the top row of the keyboard).

Another four percent consisted of the word ‘password’ and sometimes a number or two attached to the end.

Altogether, over 31 percent of passwords were considerably simple or easy to guess given a small amount of information about the user.

Thirty-one perfect is a staggering number of individuals who do not practice password safety. That means almost one out of every three people have an easily crackable password.

While savy Web users know security-boosting tricks like adding capitals, using numbers and changing passwords every few months, sometimes these tactics just aren’t enough.

Personal PCs and public computers, especially, can be infested with annoying pieces of malware called keystroke loggers. These vicious little programs record every keystroke by a user, including user names and passwords. This information is then sent back to the keylogger’s master, and the hacking begins.

This isn’t just a threat against Facebook profiles or AIM buddy lists, but bank accounts and online stock portfolios.

One might expect Window’s on-screen keyboard to be an option against these attacks, but unfortunately, the on-screen keyboard translates clicks directly into keystrokes, so keystroke loggers have no problem extracting the data.

However, Aplin Software created a quick and convenient fix for the security conscience.

SafeKeys is a lightweight program that looks similar to Window’s on-screen keyboard. However, if SafeKey’s keyboard is clicked, the button presses are not easily detected by keystroke loggers.

What’s best about SafeKeys is there’s a portable edition. Its small file size (around 300 kilobytes) allows users to carry it with them on thumbdrives. This makes browsing accounts in libraries, computer labs and other public places much safer.

While nothing is perfect in the fight against hackers, SafeKey is certainly a step forward in secure Web surfing.

Remember to practice safe password protocol when browsing the net. Use passwords longer than eight characters, throw in capitals and lower-case letters to mix things up, always insert a few numbers and, especially in a public place, remember there could be dozen of keystroke loggers lurking on a system just waiting to gobble up your log-in info.

Whatever you do, don’t make your password something as simple as an idiot would have on his luggage, like ‘12345.’
For more information about SafeKeys visit

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