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Why Passwords and PIN Codes Are Essential Security Measures

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Spring 2014 — Security News and Advice


The password was invented over 50 years ago, but arguably, it's never been more important than it is today. The proliferation of mobile devices means that millions of people around the world carry their personal information along with them, as well access to websites and services that store important data. Without passwords and PIN codes this information would be relatively easy to steal.

But, despite this fact, many of us fail to use these first lines of defense. Consider that 74% of people reuse the same password across multiple websites1, which means that if a hacker is able to crack your password they could potentially have access to all your accounts.

And, in addition to weak password security, many people fail to keep strangers from accessing their devices. A recent survey showed that 30% of people still don't have a PIN or passcode on their smartphone or tablet2.

This is particularly concerning when you think about all the important information we store on our phones and tablets, including personal and business contacts, and even banking and financial information. What's more, 40% of users have not backed up this information in case of loss.

That's why McAfee and Intel are teaming together for our "Crack the Pin to Win" campaign, in which we're inviting users to try to guess a 4-digit PIN just to see how hard it can be. This underscores how a simple measure can go a long way in protecting your information, representing a reasonable compromise between security and convenience. (Learn more about this campaign, and try to crack a PIN yourself! Visit www.mcafee.com/PINit)

We know that protecting your devices and the information they hold can sometimes seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Follow these simple tips to help improve your digital security:

Always use a PIN or passcode to lock your devices—Even if you are using your devices in familiar places, like at your home or office, you never know when a stranger or friend of a friend with bad intentions could gain access to your device.

Use random numbers—When selecting a PIN or passcode, don't use numbers that could be easily guessed, such as your anniversary of birth year.

Take care when selecting passwords—Use long, complex passwords that are a combination of letters, numbers and characters that don't spell anything. Use different passwords for separate accounts, especially when it comes to banking and other high-value websites.

Consider a password manager—If you have trouble remembering passwords, use a password manager. This is software that can help you organize passwords and PIN codes as well as select hard-to-guess passwords for you.

Change your passwords frequently—And always change your password if you suspect that anyone else has gained access to your account.

Use security—Consider using McAfee LiveSafe™ service which includes a password manager. McAfee LiveSafe can protect all of your devices (PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones) from viruses, malware and identity theft through one simple console.

Passwords and PIN codes are simple to set up and are very effective. Remember that you can dramatically increase your security just by taking the time to use them correctly.

1 Intel: http://blogs.mcafee.com/consumer/password-day
2 McAfee and One Poll, January 2013


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