- It should be hard to guess and difficult for hackers to crack.
- It should be complex - using a combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters
- The longer it is, the harder it is to crack.
- It should avoid names, places, and dictionaries
- And especially it should not be any of the commonly used passwords that amount to opening the door to intruders; passwords like “12345” or “password” (see this list of worst passwords used in 2015)
But I Can’t Remember ThemHow do you make a password that follows those guidelines but can be easily remembered? Try using the idea developed by Bruce Schneie. Create a sentence and use the first letter of each word to make up a password throwing in some upper and lower case and special characters. For example:
From the sentence When is the next West Hartford Chamber networking meeting?
You could derive the password: WitnWH(nm?
It’s easy to remember the sentence if it’s the line of a song or a description of something important in your life.
Should All Your Passwords be Unique?
While experts recommend that all of your passwords should be unique, that’s really hard to do. It is true that if you use one password for multiple accounts or websites, a hacker could figure out one and gain access to all kinds of valuable information that could be used to steal your identity or compromise your business.
So here’s a way to prevent that but minimize the number of passwords you have to remember.
- Always use a unique password where the information you are protecting is vital such as financial accounts.
- Develop a few common passwords and selectively use them on accounts where vital information is not stored, for instance if you subscribe to an online magazine that does not store your credit card information
How Frequently Should Passwords be Changed?
Experts recommend that you change your passwords frequently, maybe every three months, the thinking being that the more often you change them, the more secure your accounts will be. Strong, unique passwords may not have to be changed as frequently.
In any case, if you’re not going to change them on a routine basis, you should at least change them if you suspect your account might have been compromised.
Where Should Passwords be Stored?
Opinions vary on whether or not it is a good idea to write down your passwords on a piece of paper. While it carries some risks to do so, someone has to gain access from your house to find your passwords (keep the paper locked up in a safe location.)
If your store them in an unencrypted file on your computer, however, a hacker can potentially gain access to them from anywhere in the world.
What about Password Storage Software?Password storage software can help you manage your passwords, but it is no substitute for using a variety of passwords that are difficult to guess and changing them often. There are a variety of password apps out there to choose from.
- Create a power-up password for your PC. This will help protect your files from unauthorized access.
- If you use a wireless network at home, it should also be protected with a password. This will prevent an unauthorized person from accessing your network and hacking the computers you and your family use.
- Finally, make sure someone you trust has a way to get to your passwords should you be compromised in some way. A Canadian woman had to sue Apple to get access to her husband’s Apple password after he passed away. Eventually Apple saw reason but what an avoidable hassle.
Rogers, James. "Widow Wins Battle with Apple over Deceased Husband's Password | Fox News." Fox News. FOX News Network, 20 Jan. 2016. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce Technology Committee
Jon Archambault: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Calibey: Dave@bigthunk.com
Tony Leesha: email@example.com
Lynn A. Rappaport: firstname.lastname@example.org
Erin Tracey: ETracey@thinkadnet.com