When it comes to passwords, remember these 3 simple rules:
Remembering passwords – especially when you use fourteen different ones – is at the top of the list of things most people can’t stand about using computers. However, there are several ways for you to not only maintain consistency with your various passwords, but to also keep them secure and easily memorable. Let’s have a look at some of the ways you can make your everyday computing experience, both at home and at work, less stressful.
- Remember why you have a password in the first place.
We use passwords every day to protect the most important information in our lives. Your Facebook account has a password, your email account has one, even your computer (usually) asks for a password before you can login and use it for work or play. But why are there passwords on all these services and devices? Because you don’t want any Joe Schmoe to come along, look through your email, know your Quickbooks balances, or use your computer! In today’s world, most of us keep just about all of our personal information, correspondence, and business details in some digital form or another. Having a secure password to keep this information away from prying eyes is incredibly important – don’t forget that!
- Use a “Passphrase” instead of a “Password.”
Most people use easy-to-remember, simple words to form their passwords, then add a number or a special character to the end of it to make it more “secure.” The problem with this is that most of the simple words people use are things that are easily associated with that person – the month of their birth, their favorite pet’s name, or sometimes, their own name! These are easily guessed by someone who wants access to your documents, and anyone with patience and determination to see your records will figure out the rest, given enough time.
Instead of using simple words, think of a phrase that is relevant to you; for instance, if you work for a non-profit organization, you might like the phrase “No Taxes for Me.” Shorten that by removing the spaces. Then, change a letter or two into similar sounding or shaped numbers. Finally, use a special character to replace a letter, or add it to the end of beginning of the phrase. Now, you have “NoT@xes4Me!” Not only is this easy to remember because of it’s significance to you, but it doesn’t relate to any of your personal information, has all of the requirements for ‘secure’ passwords built-in, and if you ever need to change it, you can simply add a number or change the special character on the end without needing to memorize a whole new password.
- Never, EVER write your password on a piece of paper, or give it to anyone else!
The whole idea of a password is to keep your data and records secure from other people – so what’s the use of even having a password if you write it on a sticky note, then leave it on your monitor or under your keyboard? If you absolutely must keep it written down somewhere, use the “Notepad” application on your phone if you have one, or keep it written on an unrelated file that isn’t kept near your computer, or stays with you at all times. I can’t tell you how often I have been able to get into someone’s computer by simply looking around the surface of their desk for a Post-It Password.
When in doubt, ask your organization’s IT people for tips on a password, and never, EVER use “Password1” to keep your data secure!