A hacked password can see your bank accounts emptied, your social networking pages defaced, and your online reputation ruined.

So it’s disturbing to note that more than 90 per cent of user-generated passwords are vulnerable to hacking.

Read on to discover how you can use numbers to create a more secure password.

Avoid Obvious Patterns

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by Don Hankins

We use four-digit numerical passwords to unlock our bank accounts and smart phones every day. These passwords seem short, but there are actually a whopping 10,000 possible combinations. No phone thief or bag snatcher will have the chance to try all these mixes, but that shouldn’t make you breathe easy just yet. Studies suggest that the ten most commonly used pin numbers and access codes could unlock around 15 per cent of accounts. To keep your account safe, avoid obvious patterns. Pincodes with chronological numbers are easily cracked. So are passwords featuring all odd or even numbers, repeated numbers, or those that create visual patterns on the keypad.

Instead, choose seemingly random combinations of numbers. The settings of some smartphones also allow you to create stronger passwords using a combination of letters and numbers.

Reconsider Numbers with Personal Significance

Significant years, birthdays, and phone numbers are all easy to remember, but they may also make your passwords vulnerable. Consider who else knows that these numbers matter, and whether they’d use this information against you. Scheming co-workers, backstabbing exes, and nosy families could all compromise your account’s security. Changing passwords containing anything that’s common knowledge is the best way to protect your security.

Don’t Be Predictable

Many websites require us to create passwords with at least one capital letter and numeral. They hope the measure will make our passwords more secure, but in truth they’re just making us lazy. Most of us tend to use a name or dictionary word as our password, and capitalize the first letter and add either a 1 or 2 at the end to meet the brief. You might think you’re doing the right thing, but the hackers are on to these common tricks.

You’ll forget a password if it’s too obscure, but there’s a happy medium here. Note the way that the number 4 almost looks like an A, and the similarities between a 5 and a S. Substituting a few letters for numbers can strengthen your password significantly. Stringing a few words together, deliberately misspelling elements, and adding random capital letters and symbols can also boost your security.

Don’t Get Complacent with Security Questions

So many people think hard about their passwords, only to get lazy with the answers to security questions. If you can use these questions to retrieve your password, other people can too. And if you know your mother’s maiden name and favorite band, those problem people in your past and present might also have the answers. Adding numbers, symbols, and capital letters to your responses can further secure your accounts.

Should the unthinkable occur and your accounts face an online attack, Reputation.com, Inc. can help you undo the damage. This link includes a company overview of Reputation.com, Inc., including its services and contact details.

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