Two important features of a password are that you can remember
it to use it and that no one else can access it (either by coming across
it written down or by hacking it). As password hacking programs become
smarter and more powerful and more opportunities are presented online to
steal credit card or other personal information, anyone with an online
presence needs to become more vigilant about protecting their account
names and passwords.
Change passwords on a frequent basis.
The more sensitive the account, the more frequently the password be
changed. Passwords to bank account, email/network accounts, etc. should
be changed every 90 days. You might be comfortable being less vigilant
with less important accounts, such as an online account to The Baltimore
Sun. Keep in mind what type of information could someone obtain about
you if they gain access to less-sensitive accounts? If someone access
your personal email account will they see emails from your bank?
Keep passwords out of reach.
The best scenario is not to record passwords anywhere but sometimes
convenience of remembering the passwords has to take precedence. If you
document your password, protect that information just as you would your
Use different passwords for different accounts.
Privacy vs. convenience.
Before asking any program to save your username and password, think
about who can access your computer and what type of account they'd be
able to access.
Use strong passwords.
Create strong passwords that are meaningful enough to you to
remember but not easy for others who know you to hack. A strong password
is eight or more characters and combines letters, numbers, and/or
symbols. Avoid using birth dates, anniversary dates, names of children,
names of pets, etc. A person with the wrong intentions can have a short
conversation with you and easily obtain this information while sounding
interested in your life.
My daughter's name is Alice. She was born on 2/18/99. I was
married on 8/15/95. My wife's name is Joan and she was born on 4/8/65.
We have a pet named Boomer.
||Nothing to do with personal information at all.
Ideas for strong passwords:
- Change some letters into numbers or symbols, alternate the
case of letters, avoid English words, and add punctuation by using
commas, semicolons, &, +, etc.
- Use phrases, quotes, songs, poems, etc. to create a password
by stringing together the first letter of each word and substituting
some symbols or numbers for letters. Example: "To be, or not to be: that
is the question" can become 2b,0nt0:t1tq. When it's time to change that
password, take the next line from Hamlet "Whether 'tis nobler in the
mind to suffer" and convert to something such as w'Tn1tmt5.
- Take a common household object or task. For example, "coffee
mug" can be changed to C0fF3e_mU9. However, if acquaintances know that
you are a coffee lover with a favorite mug, this may not be a good
option for you.
- If you need to use words relevant to something in your life,
combine disjointed items while still avoiding the obvious ones such as
birth dates, etc. For example, take pieces from your favorite movie or
TV show (The Godfather), your license plate number (DMB 037), and the
name of your high school (Baltimore Polytechnic Institute) to create
g0do37n1c (god 037 nic), remembering to avoid embedding any English
words into your password. When it comes time to change your password,
you can either change the order, n1cg0do37 (nic god 037), or move on to
another part of the words: f@TdMbt3C (fat dmb t3c)