Research Shows Computer Passwords Are Easy to Break
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According to research from the Internet Security Foundation, 86 percent of Internet users believe that the passwords hidden behind asterisks are securely protected.

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But the truth is that a glaring security hole in Microsoft Windows makes such passwords easy to review. For instance, SeePassword software, available at, allows computer users to review the forgotten passwords by simply dragging a magnifying-glass interface over the asterisks.

Criminals use various tools to remotely obtain passwords of unsuspecting Internet users, gaining access to victims' bank accounts and to private information such as credit card accounts. This privacy issue is especially troublesome in an era when criminals and terrorists routinely use stolen identities to conduct their unlawful operations.

With the popularity of the Internet, identity theft has become a more troubling and growing concern. In one notorious case of identity theft, the criminal incurred more than $100,000 of credit-card debt and bought handguns in the victim's name before filing for bankruptcy, also in the victim's name. While it took more than four years and $15,000 to restore the victim's credit and reputation, the criminal served only a brief sentence for making a false statement to procure a firearm, but made no restitution to his victim for any of the harm he had caused. Many identity thieves operate from abroad and never get caught.

To protect computer users, the Internet Security Foundation recently released a program called AsteRisks, which removes unsecured passwords from users' computers. "Keeping your passwords stored on your computer, open for any hacker, is beyond careless," aid Alex Konanykhin, chairman of the Internet Security Foundation. "We remove risks from asterisks." AsteRisks is available for download from Visitors to the site also can download free security software such as EliminateSpam! and PopUp Buster+, developed by KMGI, a New York-based Internet technology company.

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