Password security

Password security tips to keep you safe online

Do NOT use the same password for everything, this drastically reduces password security

It’s a bad idea. If that password is disclosed, the “bad guy” would have the keys to all your information. Furthermore, if that password is used to access your email address, all other account passwords may be reset using the “Forgot My Password” Link. Not using the same password for everything is the first step in password security.

Make your password long

Minimum eight characters long, the longer the better. Passwords shorter than 8 characters are easy to crack.

We commonly hear two rules for secure passwords:

  • Avoid common words or proper names
  • Use both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, and spaces

But who can remember 8UI1%@.e8aww ?

Try using a password phrase, the more ridiculous the better! Something like “There are 5 kangaroos jumping on the moon.” This phrase is 42 characters that follows all the rules, is in plain English, and very easy to remember. The odds this password would be cracked, even with a supercomputer, are astronomical. Make sure your password phrase is original and not a famous or familiar quote. Again, the more nonsensical and ridiculous the better!

Use a password protected screen saver

Desktop and laptop computers should be “locked” any time you step away. A Windows system is “locked” by setting a password protected screen saver then turning it on. To do this, right click anywhere on your desktop and go to the option “Properties”; select the “Screen Saver” tab; and check the box “On resume, password protect”.

Change your password on a schedule

Passwords are like food; they are better when fresh. The longer and more complex your password is, the harder it is to crack, and the less often you’ll need to change it. A good standard is if you use an 8-character password, you should change it about every six months. If you use a 9-character or longer password and follow the rules in Tip #2 it will stay fresh for a whole year. Can’t remember the last time you changed your password? Then it’s time to change it.

Bonus Tip: Think about using a password manager

Passwords managers, if used correctly, can simplify and secure your online presence with ease. One service I am a fan of is LastPass, though there are tons of other options available both mobile and desktop based. A good password manager will remove the need to both create passwords and remember them. In addition, a password manager, like LastPass, will hold all your passwords securely and protect them with a password and two-factor authentication (be sure to enable two-factor). For this reason, if you are a person that has struggled with password security for a long time, I highly recommend installing a password manager.