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5 Tips for a Stronger Password

Posted by Anonymous

    During these tough economic times, people are going to unthinkable lengths to help better their personal situation. Unfortunately for the millions of us internet users, this means we are all at a heightened risk for identity, or at the very least, credit card theft. It is unrealistic to try and completely give up the use of the internet for shopping, banking or anything else that involves sending personal information into cyberspace, but what we can do is make it more difficult for hackers to access this information. The first step is the creation of our passwords and here are some tips on how to create a password that will make us less susceptible to theft.

1. Do not reuse passwords for different sites.
        If you continuously reuse the same password, once someone gains access to one of your accounts, they will have access to all of your accounts. So change up your passwords, and since it can be annoying to write all of your different passwords down, create a system to help you remember. Use a phrase you associate with the particular site and develop a code that you can apply to all sites.
        For example: Say the website you're using is for an airline and your name is David. A word you associate with this is "airport." Try intertwining the two words and alternating capital letters with lower case letters. Your password could then be AdIaRvPiOdRT. Airport is written in uppercase letters and David is inserted throughout in lower case letters.


2. Do not use common combinations or words in the dictionary.
        People often use keyboard patterns like, qwerty or asdfg, or sequential numbers or letters like, 1234abcd. This is not wise. An experienced hacker will always try these combinations first. Also, there is no rule that you have to use a "real" word from the English language as your password, so use something that makes sense to you but not to someone else. Combine numbers, symbols, and both upper and lower case letters.

3. Knowing personal information about you shouldn't make guessing your password easier.
        This means pet names, your address, your date of birth and your mother's maiden name are off limits. Choose a random word and apply the two previous tips to make it more difficult to guess.


4. If you must write down your username and password, make sure you keep it in a secured location.
        The people you think you know may not be as trustworthy as you think. If you leave your username and/or password on a post-it next to your desk at work, anyone who has walked by could have access to the information that password is protecting.
        
        Keeping the information on you at all times is a good place to start and an easy way to do this is a semi-hidden place in your wallet since you will probably have that with you anyway. But the best way is to probably keep it locked somewhere like a safe in your home, or even a lockbox at the bank (depending on the importance of the information you're trying to protect).


5. Make sure your retrieval information is up to date and secure.
        If you forget your username or password you will most likely need to access it via email. This retrieval feature is not helpful if the information goes to an email account that is no longer active, has been compromised or you no longer have access to. If your email address has changed for any reason, it could be useful to have a list of accounts that you should update with your most current contact information.

        If security questions are the means of retrieval, be sure to choose the most secure question. For example, "favorite things" questions can get you into trouble because it's possible your favorite pet is listed on a social networking site you have somewhere. If this is the case, obviously remove it. Or if you choose to answer with your favorite color, remember that there are only so many colors out there and a person can easily guess this. So if your favorite color is green, answer with sea foam green or Kelly green.

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