In a world of password protected websites and internet applications, we often forget that online information is vulnerable to theft. While installing security software, or relying on a firewall helps to increase online security, we cannot rule out the chance of online accounts or email passwords being cracked.

Recently, cyber experts uncovered the theft of two million accounts from around the globe. Users from the United States, Germany and Singapore, to name a few, had their passwords for Yahoo, Google, Twitter and Facebook stolen and posted on line for others to find. The security breach was uncovered when experts looked into a server in the Netherlands used by cyber criminals to control comprised computers. The group notified the affected companies and the compromised passwords were changed.

After a quick review of the passwords used, it became obvious that most users opted to use generic and easy to guess passwords. The most commonly used passwords were “123456”, “password,” and “admin”. They also noticed many people use the same easy –to-crack password on multiple accounts.

This is a lesson in protecting yourself and your online accounts with more complicated yet easy to recall passwords. Cyber experts suggest accomplishing this task by using long passwords with 10-15 characters, combining a series of unrelated words or using a mnemonic device. For example, consider looking around the room, note three objects, and string them together, such as PENPADLAMP. It’s three words with 10 characters and therefore more difficult to crack. Another example creates a mnemonic by taking the lyrics “The answer my friend is blowing in the wind” it becomes TAMFIBITW; with just nine characters it is a little short, but makes the case for mnemonics.

However, passwords are chosen, it is important to use a different password for each account and develop a habit of changing them every few months.