Thursday, August 9, 2012

Please create safer passwords

Thanks to HP for the great article!

If juggling a ridiculous amount of passwords for your various online accounts is driving you crazy, you’re not alone. For security reasons, passwords are required for everything from email to social media networks to online banking and shopping accounts, and even logging into your computer. But if you aren’t careful about how you choose your passwords or where you store them, the very thing that’s supposed to your make personal information secure might actually be putting it in jeopardy.
How to choose a secure password

Using the same password for multiple accounts or choosing a word or phrase that’s easy to remember (such as a house address, birthday, last name) is very common—and a big mistake. Those kinds of passwords happen to be the easiest for hackers to crack. There are several things to consider when creating a password that will keep your information safe.

Choose passwords that use a variety of letters, figures, symbols and cases. Try putting your hands on the keyboard and just typing randomly—a gibberish password can be very secure.

Use similar-looking substitutions to create alternatives for words that you remember easily. For example, the number zero can replace the letter “O” and the dollar sign can replace the letter “S.”

Phonetic replacements are also a good idea (e.g., “Luv2Laf” for “Love to Laugh”).

Avoid including personal information, words or acronyms that can be found in the dictionary, phrases that can be tied back to you, sequential numbers and repeating characters.

Many websites will let you know whether your password is safe when you’re in the process of choosing it. Pay attention to that, and if the site indicates that your password is not secure, pick a different one.

To keep your passwords safe, never send them to anyone via email—even yourself. It’s also recommended that you change passwords every 30 to 90 days and never write them down or keep them anywhere near your computer.

How to remember your passwords

So when you have a variety of passwords composed of random characters that you’re not supposed to write down and that (should) change every few months, how on earth are you supposed to remember all of them?

There are several password management solutions online that are secured by one ultra-strong password and can store all of your passwords for you and recall them as needed. They range in price from free to varying monthly and yearly fees. Many of them have enhanced mobility so you can access your information from anywhere on a smartphone.

While password security may eventually give way to more precise and manageable ways to keep data secure, it’s still unavoidable right now. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind the various strategies to limit the vulnerability of your personal information and remember what’s at stake when you’re creating your passwords.