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Have a password? How to avoid getting hacked

Tuesday - 11/13/2012, 6:12am  ET

WASHINGTON - If you have a password, you're likely to get hacked at some point in your life, according to New York Times technology reporter Nicole Perlroth.

In her Nov. 7 column "How to Devise Passwords That Drive Hackers Away," Perlroth gives tips on how to avoid being hacked.

Her first suggestion: Avoid passwords that can be found in the dictionary.

"If your password can be found in a dictionary, you might as well not have one," she writes.

Another recommendation is never using the same password twice - unless you want a hacker to crack into your email, bank account and Facebook profile all in the same day.

Perlroth also suggests avoiding password security questions - such as "What middle school did you attend?" - because the answers can be found on the Internet. If hackers find out the answer, she says they can reset your password and take control of your account.

The personal tech columnist says another way to protect your computer and personal data is securely storing your passwords, and that means not keeping them on your desktop or in your inbox. Placing a file on an encrypted USB drive is one hard-to-hack security method.

It's also a good idea to use different browsers for different activities, Perlroth reports. For example, you might use one browser for clicking around the Web, but a different browser for your online banking.

Read the full story from The New York Times.

WTOP's Dick Uliano contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)