FIVE RULES FOR SAFE PASSWORDS
By Mike Pepper
It seems like everywhere you go on the web, each website asks you to sign up for a free account. And so you end up with a huge collection of logon IDs and passwords, and perhaps with a temptation to reuse a few passwords over and over again. Don’t do that! Particularly, don’t reuse passwords for your banking and shopping accounts.
Cyber criminals are always trying to get your passwords, and they have lots of tricks for that. However they do it, if they get one, then they will immediately try it at every shopping and banking site in the world. It costs them next to nothing to do that. Here are five simple rules to help you keep your passwords secure:
Avoid Reusing Passwords.
Never, ever, use the same passwords for online financial services, including banking, brokerage, or credit cards. And don’t use your ATM card PIN for an online password. Keep them all completely different. If you really want to use a similar password for non-financial online accounts, make them unique each time. Try adding CaPiT@l LeTT3Rs, nUmb3rs and sy/\/\b0ls and using strange “mizpelings.”
Use Strange Phrases or Combinations of Words in Weird Orders.
Combine weird words to make them different and then add in the numbers and symbols. Never resort to the words “password” or “mypassword” or “LetMeIn,” even if misspelled and full of numbers. Don’t do it.
Avoid Using Names, Including Pet Names, No Matter How Unique.
Don’t use birthdays either. These are the first things searched for and tried by hackers. If you must use these things, put them in nonsensical combinations with unrelated words.
Don’t Write Down Your Passwords, Especially at Work or in Your Home Office.
Use a “password safe” program instead. If you must write them down, don’t file them in an obvious place like on a sticky note stuck on your computer monitor or a slip of paper under the keyboard. Don’t put them in a folder or file on your computer called “passwords” either. Let me repeat, use a “password safe” instead. If you must put them in a file on your computer don’t leave that file on your computer desktop, and do not name the file anything signifying that it contains password or security information.
Use a Password Safe.
Seriously, use a password safe program. It’s easy, and if you use “mSecure” as I do, then it’s inexpensive, too. A password safe is a special program that stores all your passwords (and any other stuff you want kept from prying eyes) in an encrypted file on your computer. You can’t read the file without the program. Your file has a unique password that you give it. But if you use it consistently, you’ll only need to remember that one password, because the program will store all the others. And that will free you up to not reuse passwords and to not have a piece of paper laying around with all your passwords on it. There are many password safes around. A search on Google will turn them up for you. If you want a recommendation, I use “mSecure.”
MIKE PEPPER, The Computer Guy, has been providing software and hardware support in New York and Connecticut for more than 35 years. He can be reached at (845) 855-5824, or www.PawlingComputerGuy.com.