If you use the same password for multiple applications or you rarely, if ever, change your passwords, you need to read this.
Passwords are required for just about everything these days. At last count I had 105 items that require some sort of login and/or password.
With so many logins to control it’s easy to get lazy – using the same password for every login and never changing it. This increases the risk of your password being hacked by people or technology; and if you use the same one for every program – then you’re in trouble.
If your password is strong (a lengthy mixture of alphanumerics, characters, and upper and lower case) then maybe, just maybe, you can relax a little. Then again, maybe you should check below to be 100-per-cent sure you’re safe.
Here are some reasons why you need to change your password:
- You had a dispute with someone you share a password with
- You’ve used the same one for a while
- You use the same password for every program
- It is not a very secure or tricky password i.e. it is easy to guess
- A program using that password has been compromised
- Someone emailed it to you – passwords in plain sight in email are a problem
- A technician you don’t know used your password to help you
- Something suspicious happened and you want/need to take precautions
- The kids know it
- You never had one in the first place or you are using the default password
- You think someone may have seen it or guessed it (don’t wait to verify this)
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Here are some tips for creating secure passwords:
- The longer your password and the more it includes variations such as numbers, capital letters and special characters, the less likely it is to be “guessed” by people or password-cracking software.
- Create a disposable and unique password for business websites and services you are trialling or otherwise consider temporary in nature. That way, if it doesn’t work out, you can simply forget about it without the worry of your “real” password potentially floating around on an untrustworthy website or service.
- Using single strategies in your passwords, such as family birthdays, anniversary dates, pet names, middle names, reversed words, all letters or all numbers, is risky. It is best to mix up at least two of these ideas to create any one password you may use. For example “lov3#AT3” is better than simple “lovehate”.
- The more complex the better, and using a combination of strategies helps you remember the password instead of writing it down. If you must write it down, write down the strategy and a hint, don’t write down the password itself.
- Consider using a password management tool such as 1Password. These can help with pretty much all the procedures mentioned above and more. Using the tool as a central repository for thing such as insurance and bank details and other important life records can reduce the risk of loss in the event of a disaster.
- Your password management tool will itself require a strong password. Remember all the rules for the password manager’s password. Consider storing your master password with someone else as organised and trustworthy as you, e.g. in your partner’s password management tool or in your will.
Getting organised now won’t be easy or quick but it will save you in the long run.
Do you assume your passwords are safe? Have you ever had your password hacked?
Please share your experience in the comments.