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For some computer users, the term “password management” means writing your password on a sticky note and posting it on your monitor. That sort of behavior causes network administrators to lose sleep and managers to worry about the security of vital data. Besides keeping passwords out of sight, users can improve security through other means. It’s a good idea to include upper-case letters, numerals and symbols in a password. For example, no dictionary-based cracking program will break through a password like “nt7MP.” Also, don’t use family members’ names, birthdays or pets’ names. Even when passwords are protected, security still can be compromised by crackers determined to break into a system. Fortunately, several software programs and Web sites offer help. ‘PC World’ www.pcworld.com/howto/ article/0,aid,102523,00.asp Here, PC World covers the topic in great detail, adding such interesting information as: “Microsoft claims that the type of encryption Windows uses makes passwords that are either 7 or 14 characters long harder to crack than passwords of other lengths. In addition, the company recommends that you use a mix of alphabetic characters, numerals, and typewriter symbols in your passwords, and specifically that you include at least one symbol in the second through sixth characters.” ‘Information Security’ www.infosecuritymag.com/2002/ apr/passwordmgmt.shtml This magazine site has compiled a list of password self-service reset and password synchronization products; some are offered “as stand-alone products or as components of identity management suites and user provisioning packages.” Department of Defense csrc.nist.gov/secpubs/rainbow/std002.txt This Department of Defense Computer Security Center document is 17 years old, but it provides some common-sense tips about managing passwords. For instance: “Each access port should be individually controlled to limit the rate at which login attempts can be made at each port. When a penetrator can easily switch among multiple access ports, it is recommended that the password guess rate also be controlled on a per-user ID basis. It is recommended that maximum login attempt rates fall within the range of one per second to one per minute.” Free Downloads Center www.freedownloadscenter.com/ Utilities/Password_Management_Utilities/ This site includes a collection of more than 100 password-related programs that can be downloaded. All are either freeware or shareware programs. Passwordportal.net www.passwordportal.net This site has an outlaw feel — with its links to the likes of Ghetto Hackers and Digital Outlaws — but it also features lists of reputable security consultants, data-recovery specialists and password-recovery software.

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