Basics of Password Vulnerabilities and Encryptions - dummies

Basics of Password Vulnerabilities and Encryptions

By Ryan C. Williams

At this point, computer login services seem to have settled on requiring a user ID and a secret password which are usually adequate. This seems to be a nice balance between getting into your home computer shouldn’t be too difficult, and just letting anybody use your information, either.

However, passwords give a false sense of security. The bad guys know this and attempt to crack passwords as a step toward breaking into computer systems. Common words or combinations of characters just make it too easy. As much of a pain as it is, using a unique string of letters, characters, and numbers is better than a common term you can easily remember.

One big problem with relying solely on passwords for information security is that more than one person can know them. Sometimes, this is intentional; often, it’s not. The tough part is that there’s no way of knowing who, besides the password’s owner, knows a password.

Knowing a password doesn’t make someone an authorized user.

Even with good passwords, hackers can find some ways to get this information and access your systems. If your company doesn’t make you choose a strong password or store that password correctly, whatever password you do use isn’t all that secure. And now that more and more employees can work remotely, you don’t always have the security of a private office.

Encrypt a piece of data and suddenly it doesn’t mean anything to anyone anymore — except for you and anyone else who has your password or key. Simply put, encryption scrambles data. So the fear of data being stolen or intercepted is gone because your data in the wrong hands is just gibberish.

If you use your encryption software to encrypt your list of passwords for safekeeping, you have to remember only one password: the one for your encryption software!

If the benefits of glorious gobbledygook sound good to you, here’s how to put encryption to work on your own data:

  • Encrypt passwords. Use a password encryption program, like RoboForm.

  • Encrypt files on your hard drive. They’re your files, darn it, and you don’t want anyone else reading them. The trick, then, is to encrypt them so that if someone without the password does open your files, all he sees is something like this:

dfjklsdfjkl;sdfjkl;fsdjkl;sdfjkl;sdfawertsdfjkl;sdfjkl;sdfajkl;dfgweruioerwjio or sdfjkl;werouiweruionjklsdflnjku90wer or xcvnm$9ke*sd893

Lots of freeware and shareware programs are available that enable you to encrypt your files. To find them, browse to and search for Encryption.

Your computer operating system can also provide encryption options. Windows users should look up BitLocker, and Mac users can rely on FileVault.