Jim’s WebLetter for 10/7/17

Hi-ya Emailers and friends!

So, as the news was released this week, Yahoo actually had every one of its three billion accounts hacked a year ago and they’re just now getting around to telling everyone. Nice.

The sale of Yahoo to Verizon went through this year and in the subsequent audit that takes place with such things, it was discovered that it wasn’t just a possible one billion accounts that were infiltrated, but every single one of them.

I used to own an email account with Yahoo for the sake of having a user name and password to other features Yahoo offered. Fortunately, I never included ALL my information. Then last year when the announcement came out that certain accounts had been opened to hackers, I deleted my account. As you know, I use Gmail for my email and have since they began in 2004. Over the years, Google has continued to improve and strengthen its service, providing protection as well as features.

So if you own a Yahoo email account, what should you do? Yahoo says you should change your password and security questions and answers for any and all Yahoo accounts, and, all other accounts that share the same or similar information. But does that protect you from intruders in the future? No guarantees. That is, unless you make your password as difficult to break as possible.

So in that light, let me give you six methods of creating an unbreakable password you can easily remember.

1. Think of a favorite Nursery Rhyme. Think of one you remember, use the first letter of each word and include a number and a punctuation mark or two. For instance, the first letters in “Little Boy Blue Come Blow Your Horn” are LBBCBYH. Now, add numbers. 1L2B3B4C5B6Y7H. Add a punctuation mark like “!”, make one or two of the letters small instead of capital and you can have something like, 1L2B3B4c5b6Y7H! 

2. Use a favorite line from a Song or Movie. This is easy for me with my background in music. I can take lyrics from a song I remember and build a password with them. For instance, Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”. In the chorus, he sings, “Play me a song, you’re the piano man”. Following the same principle as a nursery rhyme, I take the first letters of each word, put them together with a number and punctuation mark, and I wind up with, “PMAs1Yt2PM!”. Something simpler might be, “PlayMeASong123123!”

3. Use a phrase common to the Industry you work in. Use very specialized industry lingo to come up with the phrase. The problems with using Nursery rhymes or even Song lyrics, is they could be guessed with a computer algorithm running through as many possibilities as a computer can manage. However, industry-specific lingo is much harder to guess. For example, as a DJ in my early days, I played records (vinyl records) and would “slip-cue a record”. Taking letters from that, adding numbers (like the first year I began that career) and punctuation marks, I could come up with, “Slip-Cue1971Records!!”.

4. Use Personal Dates. Now, the first thing many people think is to use birthdays. Unfortunately, these days it’s far too easy for the savvy hacker to discover online. You need something a little more advanced than that. A good approach is to use dates of events only you would remember as important to you, but no one else would really know about. The day that you first took a roller coaster ride. The day that you kissed for the first time. The day your parents gave you your first bike. Take the three dates that you are sure to remember, and line them all up in a row. Replace the slashes with a lower-case L, a space between dates with a “_”, and end with a special character like “!” or “#”. Such a password would look something like this: “10l08l86_03l14l94_09l06l98#”

Of course, you can use fewer numbers to achieve the same result. The idea is, it’s something you can more easily remember.

5. Use a Keyboard Pattern when creating your password. This is one way I use to create a password because it’s a fun approach that uses the same technique as the smartphone login pattern. In this case, what you’re going to use is your keyboard. Draw some kind of recognizable pattern on your keyboard, and then use the letters and numbers as the password. 

If you start this pattern at the number 3, it should be pretty easy for you to draw out the pattern each time. If it helps, you might even draw recognizable images or letters on top of the keyboard., like a circle or square. Then just use the numbers and letters in those lines as your password. Just remember to include numbers, letters – both capitalized and small, and some kind of punctuation mark(s).

6. Create a Rudimentary Hardware Key using numbers for simple words (2 instead of “2” and “?” instead of the word “question”). For example, your password might be “2BeOrNot2BeThatIsThe?” … in the case of Shakespeare.

Ultimately – the password that you go with should be the one that works best for your situation. You can use any of the techniques above, or come up with one of your own, but the idea is to develop a password that is so unusual, with such a variety of character types, that hacking that password becomes nearly impossible.

I have learned through experience that if a hacker finds he/she can’t break into your account within the first couple of minutes, even using hacking software, then they will likely move on to another account. The idea is to make it look impossible to hack, and using something like your dog’s name or your birthdate, will be easily penetrated.  
That’s it this week. Have a great weekend and may God bless you and keep you safe.


Jim’s WebLetter

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