Is your password hackable? Experts offer tips to check it out

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The best way to keep your information private is to be vigilant about changing your passwords.

Many programs will prompt users to change passwords about every six months. It can be annoying but vital to guard against hacking, but it’s not the only way to protect your personal information.

Adam Earnheardt, chair of communication at Youngstown State University, said users should think of changing passwords like changing the batteries in smoke detectors – every six months to keep you safe.

“If hackers collect a bath of information and passwords, they might sit on those passwords for a month or years at a time before they actually use them – if they use them at all or pass them off to the black market,” Earnheardt said. “That’s why every six months you are probably safer to go and do that because they may have missed their opportunity to hack into your information.”

Earnheardt says it’s also important to use different passwords on different platforms. Number, letter and character combinations are the best, but he also points out a way to make those combinations even stronger.

“What I like to see with passwords is subbing out numbers for numbers. If a letter resembles a number, use the number instead of a letter. That’s a good way to make it strong.”

According to the online tech website CNET, passwords should be about 16 characters and contain a combination of numbers and symbols. The password should be free of dictionary words, usernames, pronouns, IDs, and any other predefined number or letter sequence.

CNET uses an example of turning a phrase like “I hope the Giants will win the World Series in 2016! into a password by taking the first letter of each word and all the numbers and symbols to create a new password: ihtGwwtWSi2016!

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