3 Default Passwords You Must Change & Why

ChangeDefaultPassword01   3 Default Passwords You Must Change & WhyPasswords are inconvenient, but necessary. Many people tend to avoid passwords wherever possible and are happy to use default settings or the same password for all their accounts. This behavior can make your data and your computer vulnerable to malware, hackers, or anyone who wants to play a prank on you.

This article points out three important default passwords that you must change to have some basic protection from malicious attacks. This is not sufficient protection by any means, but it is an essential security layer and the first of many. And besides, changing passwords is very simple.

1. Your Windows Administrator Password

The Windows Administrator doesn’t really come with a default password. During the initial Windows setup, however, the user is asked to choose a password for the Administrator account and one way to complete this step is to simply leave the password field blank. If you bought a computer that came with Windows pre-installed and if you did not have to complete a user setup when you first booted into your new machine,  chances are that your Administrator account requires no password at all. How convenient!

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Now here is why this is bad: anyone with some basic computer skills and access to your computer can log into the Administrator account and gain full control over your machine. Mind you, this is not necessarily restricted to people with physical access to your computer. A blank Administrator password can potentially be exploited by malware or hackers to wreak havoc on your system.

In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, the Administrator account is not enabled by default. However, you can enable it and set a password as described in this article on How-To-Geek – Enable the (Hidden) Administrator Account on Windows 7 or Vista

If you are running Windows XP, you can either boot into Safe Mode or click the [CTRL] + [ALT] + [DEL] key combination twice when you see the Windows welcome screen. Once you have logged in as Administrator, you can go to > Start > Control Panel > User Accounts and change the Administrator password.

2. Your Router Password

Routers all come with default login information and it easy to look up the details if you know the router manufacturer and model. You can and should use this resource right now to look up the access data for your local router, then use it to log into your router, and change the router password immediately.

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The good news is that generally only someone who is already connected to your network can access your router setup. However, it is possible to hack into your network via your computer or WiFi connection. Once someone has access to your router, they can change or look up your WiFi key, use your WiFi, and intercept your network traffic.

It goes without saying that you also need to secure your WiFi connection with a secure network key, preferably WPA or WPA-2. So while you are logged into your router, make sure WPA encryption is enabled and in case it is not, go ahead and do it.

More information on how to secure your network can be gained from these posts:

3. Your One-For-All Password

The most dangerous thing you can do is to use a single ‘default’ password for all your accounts. It’s even worse if your password is easy to crack, for example with a dictionary attack or because it is based on personal data, such as your postal code, a phone number, or a date significant to you.

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First of all, be sure to use a different password for each and every account that contains valuable (personal) information. This includes, but is not limited to email, bank, and social media accounts.

Secondly, use a secure, i.e. impossible to guess and hard to crack password for all your accounts. Sadly, this means the password will probably be hard to remember. Please consult the following articles for some ideas on how to create secure passwords that are easy to remember or on how to manage your passwords:

What other default passwords would you recommend people to change and how do you manage your accounts and passwords?

Image credits: myVector, Valerie Potapova, Przemyslaw Ceynowa , alexskopje

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9 Comments -

Anonymous

Although an administrator password is good to set, if you do set it REMEMBER IT! espically if your not tech savvy and need to get somthing fixed on your pc by someone else. Although we can remove it in little time, it is an inconvience

Tina

Absolutely! Setting a password and then forgetting it is pretty pointless.

Anonymous

haha yea had to say that, you would be surprised how many people set it, but because they almost never have to actually use it, forget what password they used.   

Tina

Well, it’s not like it has never happened to me… And that’s probably the reason most people use a single password for everything in the first place.

Dom

As usual great post! Thanks.

Also (I saw this happen at school):
If you make a password to something, don’t write it on a sticky note stuck to your screen!

Tina

Writing it down, however, is not the worst idea. No one can hack paper and it”s much easier to secure and ‘back up’ than a text file.

Chatt So

here’s n idea..if u have problm in remembrin ol d passwords…dn write dos in a file nd lock d file using a passwrd(use a folder locker s/w).so, u ud nd 2 rembr a single passwrd…problm solvd.. :))

Tina

Good idea, Chatt.