Passwords...they should be strong and secret...Passwords are a wonderful way to authenticate you – it’s a simple way of authenticating you are who you claim to be and should be able to access the information you are attempting to get at. I say it’s a simple way because there are many more complicated ways to do this! I also say it is a simple say because this is the most attacked way to gain entrance to systems by others who are not you! Simply put – passwords are how you log in to a system.

If someone can gain access to your password, they can steal your digital identity and have access to all of your information. We often take passwords for granted, forgetting that we need to craft / create / protect them well. Let’s learn more about what makes a good password and how to use them to our advantage. There are two key points to strong passwords.

First, you want passwords that are hard to guess. This means do not use passwords such as words or phrases you can find in the dictionary, your pets name, your address or your birth date.

Second, use passwords that are easy to remember. If you keep forgetting your passwords they are not very helpful.

Cyber criminals have developed programs that automate the ability to guess, or brute force attack your passwords. This means they can break into your accounts if your passwords are easy to guess. To protect yourself follow these rules for good passwords.

  • You should have at least one number in your password.
  • You should have at least one lower case and one upper case letter in your password.
  • You should have at least one symbol in your password.

But how do we a password that is easy to remember but hard to guess? At first glance this password looks very difficult. However by using the first letter of each word in a sentence, it becomes much easier to remember:


My 1st son was born at Mary Immaculate Hospital at 11:25.

By using phrases you can pick passwords that are easy to remember and hard for people to guess.

In addition to using strong passwords, you must protect how you use and control them.

First, it is important to use different passwords for different accounts. For example, never use the same passwords for your work or bank accounts as your personal accounts, such as Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. This way if one of your passwords is hacked or compromised, the other accounts are still safe.

Second, never share your password with anyone else, including a family member, co-worker or supervisor. Remember, your password is a secret, if anyone else knows your password it is no longer secure. If you accidentally share your password with someone else, change it immediately.

Third, never use a public computer such as at hotels or libraries to log into a work or bank account (or other account that you don’t want compromised – like your email or LinkedIn account). Since anyone can use these computers they may be infected with a malicious code that is capturing all your keystrokes. Only log in to your various accounts on trusted computers you control.

Fourth, if you are no longer using an account, be sure to disable or delete it. That’s right, remove it, trash it, get rid of it – don’t just abandon it!

Finally, be cautious of websites that require you to answer personal questions. These questions are often used if you forget your account password and need to reset it. The problem is the answers to these questions can often be found on the Internet, or even your social networking pages. Make sure that if you answer personal questions you use only information that is not publicly known. If the website provides other reset options, such as a text message to your mobile phone, you may want to consider these alternatives.

I don’t share this to scare you – I only want you to be aware of what you need to do as you practice safe computing. I hope you examine how you craft and use your passwords and make necessary changes to keep your information free from those that want to hack!

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