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Technology

Protect Your Online Privacy With Unique Passwords

A variety of passwords can keep one breach from spreading.

Accounts of security breaches at retailers and other businesses have become an ongoing saga. In a recent installment, Zappos.com said in January that hackers had tapped its database of more than 24 million users. Customers’ credit card information remained safe, but e-mail and billing addresses, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords may have been exposed.

That’s why it’s important to use a variety of passwords among Web sites. Zappos customer Alison McReynolds, for example, rests easier because she has unique passwords for online accounts that contain her most-sensitive data. A hacker who decoded her Zappos password wouldn’t be able to use the same one to access her e-mail—the most important type of account to protect because confirmations of your online activity tend to land there, says Adam Levin, chairman of Identity Theft 911.

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Strong passwords guard against attacks. A random mix of numbers, symbols, and uppercase and lowercase letters is hard to crack but difficult to remember. You may more easily recall the first letters of a string of unrelated words, including a couple of numbers or symbols—but avoid anything obvious, such as your birthday or a pet’s name. Don’t store passwords in your e-mail in-box or on a piece of paper. Instead, use a hyper-secure program, such as www.keepass.info, www.clipperz.com or www.passwordsafe.com.

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