Best Practices for Passwords

GENERAL RULES ABOUT PASSWORDS TO CONSIDER

1. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack.
2. Consider a 12-character password or longer.
3. Avoid names, places, and dictionary words.
4. Mix it up. Use variations on capitalization, spelling, numbers, and punctuation.
5. Norton utilities has a password generator function. (fees apply)
6. Pay attention to your bank and credit account statements since hackers often look for opportunities to access easy password guesses.
7. If your passwords for web sites involving financial transactions are the same as your social and email passwords, change them all!
8. Never use the same password for more than one account. That way, if a hacker gets into, say, your Facebook account, they won’t be able to access other accounts that you have.
9. The most common hacked password was 123456 and the word PASSWORD. NEVER use obvious easy to remember sequences for your password!

HOW TO CREATE A STRONG PASSWORD: METHOD 1

Start with something that is memorable to you: a phrase, a date or a hobby.
For demonstration purposes, I’m going to use the phrase “Cooking is easy.”
Next, I’m going to do the following:
Replace each “a” with @
Replace each “s” with $
Replace each space with %
Replace ‘o’ with 0 (the number zero)
Replace each “i” with !

HOW TO CREATE A STRONG PASSWORD: METHOD 2

Think of a group of names that are related to each other: your children’s names, the names of your pets, or the names of all your siblings.
For demonstration purposes:
Assume my siblings are named Jessica, Jenny, John and Betsy.
Combine the first couple of letters from each to form one word. It may look like gibberish to someone else, but it’s meaningful to you. “Jessica Jenny John Betsy” becomes JeJeJoBe
Remember that strong passwords also include punctuation and numbers.
By adding the above items to my password, using my favorite number and characters this becomes JeJeJoBe27:-).

HOW TO CREATE A STRONG PASSWORD: METHOD 3

If it seems confusing to create a password using the methods above, you can also have and use a password created by a password generator website. These websites use computer algorithms to create random passwords and they don’t send or store the passwords. Here’s how to use a password generator:
1. Go to strongpasswordgenerator.com OR random.org/passwords
2. Follow the instructions to select the number of characters you want your password to be.
After you click the “get password” or “generate strong password” button, you will be given a safe, strong password you can use.

REMEMBERING YOUR PASSWORD!

By now, hopefully you have a few strong passwords. The tricky part is remembering them so you can actually access your accounts.

Some people will write their passwords on a Post-it note and stick it to their computer monitor, under their mouse pad or under their desk. This is not a safe method. If you locked your valuables in a heavy-duty safe, would you write the combination on a Post-it note and stick it to the safe? Probably not! It doesn’t matter how strong the safe is if you give away the combination.
It’s OK to write down your passwords to remember them, but make sure you hide the paper well.

Here are a few places you could write down your password in case you forget it:

1. In a cookbook on the page of your favorite recipe.
2. On the page of your favorite book.
3. On the back of a picture.
4. On a piece of paper in your wallet.
5. On a piece of paper that you lock in a safe. Just remember the combination to the safe.
6. DO NOT email your passwords to yourself. If hackers got into your email account, they would get access to all your accounts. And don’t keep your passwords on a document on your computer’s hard drive; that too would be a little bit like putting them on a Post-it on your computer screen.

This article was generously provided by Ed Berkowitz.

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