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Are Your Passwords Truly Secure?

Choosing a password for a personal email or Facebook account is an important part of keeping curious eyes out of our personal lives. But choosing a password to protect your client Creating Secure Passwords for Mental Health Records  | Argonaut Softwarehealthcare files is not just important, it is absolutely critical. The security of your files is only as safe as the password you create for the account.  

Have you ever taken a good look at all of your passwords and asked yourself if your accounts are truly secure?

Hackers use various creative tools access people's accounts. One of the factors they count on is that most people choose a username and password and use it across all of their accounts. While many company websites, like Argonaut, have encrypting password protecting software, other smaller companies may not be as secure. So the last time you signed up to shop on an e-commerce site, or logged in to an online forum to post a comment, you  may have inadvertently opened the door to all of your accounts. Once a hacker has accessed these unsecure sites to retrieve your username and password, they can quickly and easily move on to some of the more popular sites, and within minutes they are in your account.

Another factor that hackers depend on is the fact that 20% of the population creates passwords that follow a certain pattern. Hackers use an individual's personal information, such as family names, birthdates, or birthplaces, pet names, portions of a social security number, a string of numbers (1,2,3), the words "password," "god," "letmein," "money," or "love," and alma maters. Using this information, a hacker will combine these details or append the personal details with a "0" or "1" at the end to formulate a possible password. Once they figure it out, chances are every website you use could be compromised.

Lastly, a special warning for users of Google Chrome: if you have used the "Remember Password" feature offered by the browser, you have literally given anyone who has access to your computer all of your passwords. Someone can launch a Google Chrome web page and see all of your passwords just by looking "under the hood." Advice: always click on "No" when prompted to save your password on Google Chrome or any web browser that offers this feature.

Here are few more tips on how to create passwords that will help to keep your account secure:

  • Develop passwords that have combinations of lowercase and uppercase letters, with liberal use of numbers, and punctuation symbols.
  • Take your current password and replace certain letters with symbols or numbers (make an "S" into "!" or an "O" into "%") and use this replacement technique all of the time so you remember your password.
  • Use different passwords for every site. This can become confusing but if you develop a process, you will be able to easily remember them all without writing them down. For example, if your password is "MyD#sk1sW%1t#" (MyDeskIsWhite, with the "e" changed to a "#"; the "I" changed to a "1"; and the "h" changed to a "%"), you can append the same password on every website by adding the first few letters of the website to the beginning, middle, or end of your password. (If you were creating a password for Argonaut Software, your password could be "MyD#sk1sW%1t#Argo".)
  • Do not use names or words found in the dictionary. One of the common hacker tools is to use "dictionary" attack programs to guess passwords.
  • Do not incorporate any basic information, such as personal details or keyboard patterns.

Did you know: an 8-character password with only 1 number, such as "grandma1" can be hacked by a computer program in less than 2 minutes, but just changing that 8-character password to incorporate a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and punctuation symbols could result in a password that takes up to 210 years to break.


Also in this issue: Top Smartphone Apps for Therapists

Related article: How to Protect Clients in a Mobile World