One side-effect of living in the 21st Century is having to remember a bunch of passwords for your online activity – bank accounts, email, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and more. PC World recently reported
on Splashdata's "The 25 Worst Passwords of 2013." How many of you have used “12345678” or “password” as your password before? You know who you are!
While it’s tempting to use one easy password across the board, experts don’t recommend it. Microsoft offers some quick tips
for creating stronger passwords that will be harder to hack:
- Make it long – the longer the password, the harder to crack. Aim for at least ten characters or more, and try not to use anything likely found in a dictionary. Also avoid personal information such as family names, favorite sports teams, important dates, or places.
- Mix it up - pepper your password with symbols, numbers, and upper/lower case letters, but don’t take the easy way out by just replacing “to” with “2” or “and” with “&” as those are often anticipated by hacking software.
- Change it often – be sure to change your password every 3 months or so. Some systems will remind you, but you can also set automatic reminders for yourself to make sure it gets done.
- No two passwords alike – using the same password for multiple accounts can put you at risk; if one of the lesser-protected sites gets hacked, your password and username can be used with your other accounts including banking sites.
- Don’t let Internet browsers remember your passwords - If you use a web browser such as Firefox, you will be prompted with the option for your password to be remembered when you visit a website. If you’re worried about others accessing your computer and accounts, opt-out by selecting “Never Remember Password for this Site.”
How Will I Remember These!?
- using the name of the site you’re using but capitalizing a letter or two,
- swapping out a letter for a number or symbol, and then
- personalizing with your initials at the beginning and then again at the end but backwards.
For example, a password for Netflix could be nmN3tf!1xMN – that’s eleven characters, including three capitalized letters, one number and two symbols.
Aren’t There Tools To Make This Easy?
If it seems like a lot of work, try a tool such as Secure Password Generator
to create random and secure passwords for your accounts. Or download a tool such as Lastpass
and let it secure and manage your info. You could even create an Excel spreadsheet to record your usernames and passwords, but be sure to password protect it
It’s Worth It!