Between our computers, cell phones and tablets, most Americans have huge amounts of our personal information stored via digital means. Although technological security has grown as rapidly as the technology it supports, the threat of hackers and viruses is constant. With everything from our family photos to our banking information being stored somewhere digitally, it is important to educate ourselves on how we can lockdown this information. In our new digital life series, we’ll share a variety of tips and practices to help make sure your digital life is just as secure as your physical life.
Volume Two: Password Protection
Nowadays, almost every website has a user login that allows users to access and store content they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. These logins can unlock things as simple as our high score for an online game or as critical as our online banking statements. With many sites having specific requirements for their passwords, it can be easy to get bogged down trying to remember which password is which. Below are a few quick tips for helping you pick your passwords, remember your passwords and, most importantly, keeping your content safe.
- Choose an obscure password, not necessarily a complex one. While it would be nearly impossible for someone to guess random numbers and letters (such as 3jfS#5), it would be almost as impossible for them to guess the name of your second favorite character from your favorite childhood show. It needs to memorable, but only to you.
- Spell things out phonetically or use a homophone opposed to their correct spelling. For example, if you want to use your high school mascot, which happens to be a bulldog, spell it “bowldawg.”
- Condense your favorite quote into an acronym. These are easy to remember for the user, but obscure enough to make it guess-proof. If you are a big fan of The Godfather, for example, your password could be igmhaohcr for “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
- Have a different password for each site you use. It may be inconvenient having dozens of passwords, but it’s much safer than having one code that can unlock your whole life. For tips on how to remember all of these passwords, continue to the next section.
Remembering Your Password:
- Create a theme or topic for your passwords. With a strong topic that only you know, you’ll remember how to lead your guesses should you forget one of your passwords. Sticking with The Godfather theme, each password could be a favorite quote, setting or character.
- Use the same numbers, capitalization and symbols universally. Because most websites require a variation of letters, numbers, symbols and capitalization, create a universal key to apply to all passwords. For example, always start with the number 1, capitalize the third letter and end with an “!”. So while the main word or phrase will change from password to password, the universal key remains the same for your memory’s sake.
Miscellaneous Password Tips:
- It is recommended to change your passwords every three to six months. This could be a good time to switch your designated password topic or structure key.
- Avoid writing down your passwords or keeping a document on your computer called “Passwords”. This essentially defeats their purpose. If you do choose to document them, title the document something inconspicuous and place it in a password-protected folder. Ironic, but secure.
- And finally, never make your password “Password”, your name or the name of a family member. These will always be guessed by someone trying to access your account.