10 Important Password Tips Everyone Should Know

Your bank data, your accounts, your email, and your life are all wrapped up in your ability to create secure passwords and remember them. And yet most educators (and their students) struggle to remember passwords. With so many passwords stolen, there are things all of us SHOULD know to make our identities and bank accounts safer.

Tag Cloud of most commonly used passwords

Mark Burnett, author of the most commonly used passwords wordcloud featured on this post, says that the top 10,000 passwords represent 98.8% of all users(This was said before services like Last Pass began being used.) So this means that if a hacker has those 10,000 passwords and takes a crack at your account, then 98.8% of us are at risk. Wake up and smell the cybercrime, friends. It is time to get savvy.

1 – Never Tape It On Your Desk

Most password theft happens because of “social engineering.” Most people keep their password taped under their keyboard or in the right or left hand drawer or wallet. Get an app like Password Caddy (http://j.mp/pcaddy)  on your phone and store your password there, not out where the world can see it.

2 – Switch to a passphrase

Use a phrase instead with uppercase, lowercase, and numbers included. Ilovetofishat6:00am! is an example.

3 – Don’t be obvious

If you look at the worst passwords of 2013 (http://j.mp/worstpass) 123456 and password top the list. (Sunshine and letmein are also in the top.) Don’t use your spouse’s name, kids, grandkids, birthdays, phone numbers or a keyboard row of any kind.

4- Never save your passwords in your web browser

Unless you’re using LastPass or another secure service, this is the worst way to save your passwords.

5 – Have a unique password for your bank and email account NOW

When you sign up for a site that asks for your email and password – DON’T ENTER YOUR PASSWORD TO YOUR EMAIL. It is asking you to set up a NEW password for that particular site. No one will ever ask for your email password. No one.

Your email password and your banking password should be unique and NEVER USED AS THE PASSWORD ON ANY OTHER SITE.

6 – TRICK: substitute numbers and letters

Pick certain numbers to replace letters – like a code — you could always use the number 7 instead of T’s for example.

7 – TRICK: Use the site name somehow in the password

You can have a system for passwords but make them unique by using the site name you’re logging into somehow.

8  – Use a password manager

Many experts are recommending password managers after the recent Heartbleed bug that impacted 60% of ecommerce websites. (http://j.mp/pwdmgr)

Remember that if you mess up and forget your master password for one of these services you’re locked out of everything permanently. You could write it down and lock it in your safety deposit box.  One Password, LastPass, Dashlane are 3 good ones. (I use LastPass and love it but it does take some getting used to.)

9 – Use a fingerprint reader

Biometrics or the using of your fingerprint or some other unique identifier related to your biology is definitely the way things are going. I love the fingerprint unlock on my iPhone 5s. (NYMI has a heartbeat sign in tool coming the end of the summer.)

10 – Lock your screen and log out

If you step away from your computer or mobile, set it to lock or log out. This is particularly important for teachers.

If all of this overwhelms you, get LastPass and be done with it. Only .18% of us have completely unique passwords. It is time to wise up – we can do better.

Having a method to remember highly secure passwords will keep you and your loved ones safe. Spread the word.

This article was adapted from one I published in my newspaper column for the Camilla Enterprise/ Pelham Journal.

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14 thoughts on “10 Important Password Tips Everyone Should Know

  1. I am a long time user of Last Pass and have recently had my husband create an account. We have each others master password saved in our respective accounts. No, I don’t think I will ever forget mine, but then there are days when I barely remember my name!

  2. Great suggestions. I never thought too much about the “never use the same password as your email” thing – just fixed it! I do use the site name (a special way) in my passwords.

    My password keeper of choice is mitto at mitto.com. It’s worked well for me. I wonder how it stacks up to Lastpass? Off to Google! Thanks Vicki!

  3. Brilliant tips and suggestions. For managing my passwords I use Sticky Password – http://www.stickypassword.com – for many years. Maybe you can have a look at them as well or mention them. It is great there are so many apps on the internet you can choose from.
    Thanks for the article again

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