So you thought you fed the wrong password and hence the email page was not loading.

You check the ‘Caps Lock' function and punch in the password again, but to no avail. The reality dawns…the email account has been hacked. Or it could be as simple as you logging onto the homepage, which flashes a message saying the account has been accessed by a ‘suspicious IP address'.

Panic sets in as you begin to realise what mischief the hacker can play with your hacked email account. It could be a nuisance mail to your boss or your friend or a con mail asking for financial help from your friends.

Cyber security specialists say the contributory negligence by the account holder in choosing a secure password is the big help for the hacker. There is a general tendency to choose names of family members, dates of birth, which are the weakest on the security parameters.

Specialists have now begun suggesting a simple but effective was of securing the email accounts by using a ‘paraphrase' as a secure password. While a password means simply a word or words, a paraphrase is derived by taking pieces of a memorable phrase and adding mixed case, numbers and other symbols. To make the password crack-proof, experts say, the best way is to go for a mix of numbers and special symbols too. One could take a sentence and make it into a passphrase like “I am working in The Hindu for the last 15 years” could fetch you a passphrase : “IawiTHftl15y”. Or it could be something like “IaWaCs” (I am worried about cyber security).

Single password

The other suggestion, experts offer, is to never have a single password for different websites. If you are using a computer accessible to others, be wary of ‘key logger' of spy software being installed in your absence. This software could enable the hacker know every key you punch. Have a genuine anti-virus installed and update it regularly.

The importance of choosing a secure password is stressed by popular cyber security analyst, Chester Wisneiwski in his blog. He cites the example of a financial criminal in Brazil from whom police recovered five hard disks. The specialists at Brazil's National Institute of Criminology tried in vain for six months to crack the passwords.

“The best lesson we can learn from the Brazilian criminal is the importance of secure ‘passphrases', Wisniewski writes.

Do we see some changing passwords today?