Passwords

You read the title and cringed, and you clicked anyway. I know, PASSWORDS, the bane of computer-related existence and yet a very necessary evil.

I have often heard people say “nobody wants my data”, or “my data isn’t worth anything”. While that may be a true thought to those people, I argue with the following – all data is worth something to someone, and even your email address username and password if used elsewhere (bank account) is now worth a lot to someone else.

In this article, I would like to walk you through a bunch of questions and make some suggestions on how to help with your password security. Preventing you or your data from ending up in the wrong hands.

Let’s begin with, how Secure is your password?

  • How many characters are in your password?
    • At least 8 characters? the bare minimum for most website’s requirements..
    • At least 10 characters?
    • At least 14 characters?
    • How about 20 characters?
    • Would you consider 26 characters?
  • How complex is your password?
    • Uppercase letters?
    • Lowercase letters?
    • Using numbers?
    • Using special characters?
  • Are you using information in your passwords that can be found on your social media sites?
    • Kids names?
    • Spouse name?
    • Pets names?
    • Birth dates?
    • Hobbies?
  • How many places/sites do you use the same password?
    • You aren’t using the same username and password for your email/bank account/shopping and social media accounts, right?
  • Are you using dictionary words in your passwords?
    • You are using garble in your passwords, right?
  • How often do you change your password?
    • I am assuming your company forces a change a few times a year, but do you change your personal passwords as frequently?
  • Your passwords are not on a yellow sticky note under your keyboard or hanging from the monitor are they? SAY NO

You aren’t using any of these are you? –

Top 10 bad passwords

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. Qwerty
  4. Baseball or sports team name
  5. Dragon
  6. Football or sports team name
  7. Monkey
  8. Letmein
  9. Mustang
  10. starwars

OK, now that you are cringing in your seat while you have read through the above questions, let’s start to make some improvements to your password security.

Examples of good passwords

  1. Thisisa26characterpassw*rd!
  2. Ch@ngemyP@$$w0rd
  3. D0n’tU$3th!sP@$$w0rd
  4. IlUvtH3M0unt@in5
  5. C0Surv1v@l1$t

You should be going for passwords that are at least 10-12 characters long, and have a healthy level of complexity (using upper case, lower case, numbers and special characters) like the examples of good passwords above.  You can use dictionary words IF the password is well beyond a 15 character limit. You should be changing your personal passwords more frequently than the website recommends (usually once per year). You should not be using the same password for everything.

If http://myshoppingsite.com site gets hacked and you have used the same username/password combination there that you have for your banking site, guess what the hackers can now sell for all the money in your account.

Tips for developing good passwords.

  1. Use an online password creator
    1. Password Generator
  2. Make them memorable to you
    1. Not your social media information
  3. Make them nothing associated to you
    1. Random items on your desk work great for this
    2. Random items seen from your desk work great for this
  4. Randomize them
    1. Don’t use the same password everywhere, have multiple passwords, and use them randomly
  5. Change them regularly
    1. At least every six months
  6. Use a password management tool
    1. Lastpass
    2. Keypass
  7. Test the security of your passwords
    1. Password meter

Hopefully, after the cringing, and after some evaluation, you are able to revamp your current password uses/processes to a more secure password management use.

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