Your Dog’s Name is Not a Good Password

Buster and Champ are great names for dogs. But neither of them make a good online password – especially when those are the names of your dogs!

Password Trust GuardOne of the most annoying things you’ll come across on the web is when a website forces you to create a complicated password. You’ve had to do it before—with capitals, and numbers, and special characters. You end up with something like “Beth@ny12”, which looks more like a 12-year-old’s screen name than a password. The worst part? Those passwords aren’t secure. Here’s why.

Dictionary Attacks

Brute force is usually what people think of when hacking comes to mind. That’s when hackers guess every possible combination of every letter and character. It’s a technique that’s used, but only as a last resort. Hackers start, instead, with dictionary attacks. These involve taking a very large and comprehensive list of common passwords, characters, and substitutions, and then using them to guess your password. So, yes, they’re going to guess “password”, or even “p@ssw0rd1”.

The problem, here, is that people pick passwords out of habit. The computers have been forcing us to when they make us turn “Scruffy” into “$CruFfy89”. We use short, familiar words because it’s the only way we can remember those ridiculous passwords. But that only makes them easier to guess for the dictionary attacks. Online bullies know all of the words we pick, and all the substitutions we’re going to use. And heaven forbid we forget our password. Then we just reset it to a password we already use somewhere else…which is another cardinal password sin.

Better Passwords

So how do we protect ourselves? The best option is to add more letters, preferably in the form of a random word (or words), as words are easier to remember than substitutions. If you have the option, instead of “$CruFfy89”, do a few random words, like “correcthorsebatterystaple”. You’ll get way more bang for your security buck that way. There are online password creation and storage companies like LastPass that can create and store unique passwords for you. That way, you only have to remember one password in order to access all of your accounts.

Online security should be a big deal for you! It seems like every other day we hear about another big company that got hacked. So before you give some online business your personal information and unique, non-personal password, make sure the website has a Trust Guard trust seal on it, verifying that it is secure.


Special thanks to writer Stephen Porritt.

Five Ways to Combat Cyber Crime

Like most theft, cyber crime tends to follow the path of least resistance.  For paid security monitoring for your website, contact Trust Guard. They’ll help you combat cyber crime by scanning your website for more than 75,500 known vulnerabilities used by hackers to really screw things up.

Here are five online hygiene tips anyone can follow, for free, to make life harder for people looking for an easy way to steal your personal or financial information – whether you’re a business owner or not.

Combat Cyber Crime1. Use multifactor authentication. This includes entering a password plus a code or a question that only you know. Google’s authenticator app is a quick download and works easily with many services including Amazon and Gmail. It’s worth checking to see if there’s a multifactor option every time a website asks you to fill out bank account or credit card information.

2. Don’t share passwords across websites. Almost everyone shares at least a couple of passwords. Don’t. There are plenty of inexpensive password manager phone apps that can help you with this, notably the open-source Password Safe and LastPass.com.

3. Refuse to give up information whenever you can. Best Buy doesn’t need your phone number. The more information you part with, the more can be used against you if the retailer is hacked. Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec didn’t have it right all of the time, but staying off the grid as much as possible is always a good idea.

4. Check your bank balance regularly. Thieves often try for a small purchase to see if the card works before they go shopping; in particular, look for easy-to-resell items like gift cards and credits on online marketplaces. When it comes to financial accounts, you also want to change the passwords to those accounts every three months at a minimum.

5. Close down services that you don’t use anymore. Do you still have a Steam account from that one time you bought a PC game all your friends were talking about? Are you sure? Is it linked to a credit card you still use? These are the easiest ways for hackers to steal in bulk, and the one-off purchase you make on impulse is probably the one you’ll unthinkingly reuse your old password on, too. For these types of purchases, it’s a good idea to get a pay-as-you-go debit card that you load from another card with only the amount you need to make the one-off purchase.

Everyone can and should do their small part to keep their personally identifiable information safe and protected. These five tips should help.


Special thanks to The Guardian for supplying much of the information found in this article.

Yahoo Hack Calls for Improved Passwords and Security

Although the Yahoo hack took place in 2014, it was just yesterday, the first day of Autumn 2016, that they fessed up to it.

Yahoo acknowledged that hackers stole the account information of at least 500 million users. Information intercepted by the Yahoo hack included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, passwords, and security questions.Yahoo Hack

Security experts say the incident could have far-reaching consequences for users beyond Yahoo’s services. This is because access to Yahoo could also provide login information (including passwords) to other sites as well. This could include access to social sites, sure. But it could also include bank accounts and domain and hosting accounts for small business owners.

If you had/have a Yahoo account, you should assume that your PII (Personally Identifiable Information) was stolen. Changing Yahoo passwords will be just the start for many of you. Comb through other services — especially those for which you provided a Yahoo email address to create an account — to make sure passwords used on those sites aren’t too similar to what you were using on Yahoo. Change passwords for sites that contain sensitive information like financial, health, business, or credit card data.

Never use the same password across multiple sites. Protect your username and passwords – even from friends or co-workers that you think you trust. Try a password manager like 1Password or LastPass. These sites create a unique password for each website you visit and store them in a database protected by a master password that you create. Password managers reduce the risk of reused passwords or those that are easy to decode.

You should already be treating everything you receive online with an abundance of suspicion, in case hackers are trying to trick you out of even more information. Looking for links to SSL-protected websites is a start. Don’t click on any links without knowing where they go.

When on a website, look for trust seals from trusted third-party vendors like Trust Guard who can verify the site’s privacy policy, legitimacy as a business, and even its safety by running periodic security vulnerability scans. These scans can detect issues the company might have and help the business resolve them before hackers get the chance to mess things up. Sites using these services go the extra mile, making every possible attempt to keep your PII safe and secure.