We touched on passwords last week giving some basic advice on lost passwords. This week I want to dig a little deeper. How to make them stronger, better and more memorable than before. Security goes beyond the password into the physical world but we will get there later.
Last week we gave some basic instructions and a list of passwords that are the top 24 hacked. Unfortunately the biggest problem today is you need so many passwords that its very hard to remember them all. Most websites you will need a password for everything, including your banking and even Facebook or your email. If you don’t have a good place to store them then you will no doubt try to make them all similar and simple so you don’t forget. Or maybe you place a sticky note next to your monitor with you most important passwords on it.
Here is the problem with using the same password in many places. Lets say you fall victim to a phishing attack while you are logging into Facebook. Now the hacker has your email and password. Next they can start trying to use your captured information to log on to your bank account and everything else. For this reason please do not use the same password in lots of locations.
Simple passwords are just flat out bad. If you use a basic word that comes from a dictionary, the computers of today can do a basic dictionary hack and get the password out in a matter of minutes. Other simple passwords can be done even faster.
Here is the recommend password requirement list:
- A password should contain at least eight characters.
- The password should have at least three of the four following types of characters — upper-case letters (ABC), lower-case letters (abc), numerals (123), and punctuation marks or other special characters (!#$%&*_=+? ).
- Avoid common names, slang words or any words in the dictionary.
- Don’t include any part of your name or any part of your email addresses.
- Don’t use information to anything that can be learned from your social networking profiles or an Internet search. In other words, don’t make it your favorite band or movie, your pet’s name, your nickname, your phone number or, especially, your birth date.
If you are having a hard time with the random passwords, then we have a solution for you. Try a sentence. For example take the sentence “I work in Portland, Oregon and love it” and turn it into a password “iW@pdx&L1T”. In this way you remember the complex password through a sentence. You don’t have to shorten every word, or even use the first letter. Go with what helps you.
Well that about wraps it up for the inside, now lets take a walk outside. Where do you store your passwords? While we are not exactly friends of the sticky note affixed to your monitor, if you are at home your odds are a lot less likely that someone is going to break in and steal your password. However if that same sticky note is on your very exposed work monitor then you could have a very big problem. It might not be your co-worker, but the cleaning staff or anyone else that just happens to walk by. Please keep it safe and secure in a hidden location.
There are also programs that can be installed on your computer to store all your passwords. If you do go that route, please use a very strong password to secure the program.
The last place to look at is your browser. Your internet browser can store passwords. You are perfectly fine storing passwords in your browser. Again if you have your passwords on your work computer, it is probably not such a good idea. However it is ok to store your passwords in your personal system as long as you keep track of who is in your computer and keep your computer safe from viruses and other malware.
Now that you now how to create a nice strong password and where you should store it we hope that you will take this information and put it to good use. Keep yourself safe.