Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Too Many Passwords! Pt. 1

Image by josephleenovak CC License
As our district tech director says, passwords are like keys.  Your house key and your car key are not the same or interchangeable and your passwords should be just as unique.  However, the biggest challenge is trying to remember which one you set for each account.  As a result, many of us just use the same password for multiple accounts, making our accounts easier for hackers to access.  Below are tips for making stronger passwords.

Types of passwords to avoid:

Simple passwords - Avoid creating basic passwords like 12345, asdfg or "forgot your password"

Easy to guess - This includes the names of your children, spouse, pets or favorite sports team.

Significant dates - Significant dates like birthdays and anniversary are too easy to access and guess.  If you use a date choose something that isn't obvious, like your favorite year in history.

Ideas for creating a strong password:

Minimum of 8 characters with lower case, caps, numbers and a special character - Although most tech specialists will recommend 12 to 14 characters for a password, you can get by with eight.  However, avoid going any lower as it makes the combinations easier to guess.

Create an acronym from a phrase - You can create a phrase that includes dates and team names like "1966 was the best year for the Green Bay Packers," so my password would become 66BYGBP.  You could also use a favorite phrase from one of your relatives.  My grandmother is notorious for saying "waitonce."  Here's one way I could turn that into a password - GmaW80nc3

Substitute numbers and symbols for specific letters - In the phrase Grandma Wait Once, I substituted the number 8 for anything with that same sound, the o in once became a zero and the e on once became a three.  You could set up any substitution you wanted, for instance the letter s could be changed our for the number five or a dollar sign.  Just set a pattern for yourself and stick to it.

Relate your password to a favorite hobby or sport - You could create a password out of your hobbies like readingwalkingknitting and then make some number and/or symbol substitutions.  You could also make a phrase out of your favorite sport.  For instance, The Edmonton Oilers Rock becomes 3dm0nt0n0il3rsR0ck.

You can create passwords that mean something to you, just make sure you mix it up so it's not easy for hackers to guess.

Too Many Passwords! Pt. 2 will cover ideas for remembering your usernames and passwords.

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