A Secure Practice Includes Passwords

If most of us are concerned about security, why do we make it so easy for hackers to crack our passwords?  This is an even bigger deal when you are entrusted to secure patient’s healthcare information.

Did you know the most popular six-digit password is “123456?”  In addition, when asked to come up with alphanumeric passwords, an alarming number of people simply supply a common word—sometimes “password”—followed by the number one.  Or they use their birth day, which is easy for a hacker to discover.

Hackers also know that people typically reuse passwords.  This means if someone discovers your email password, for example, they may be able to use the same one to access your sensitive financial or healthcare information.

This month’s issue of Consumer Reports magazine has a sobering article about password security.  The article discusses how hackers have extensive dictionaries of widely used passwords that makes it easy for them to crack common words, names, phrases, or facts that you might use for security.

And the length of the password matters as much as its complexity.  The article estimates with a basic computer and hacking software, it would take about 2 ½ hours to crack a seven-character password.  Cracking an eight-character password would take about 10 days.  A nine-character password would last about 2 ½ years.

What are some tips for improving password security?  Use longer passwords whenever possible.  Avoid obvious names, words, and phrases.  Mix numbers with characters.  Do not keep your password reminders near your computer.  And avoid using the same password twice.

Of course following these suggestions requires extra work.  But a little extra effort will help keep your personal and practice information secure.

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