The Easy Way To Better Passwords

I know I’ve touched on this topic before, and I have lectured dozens of clients on the importance of strong passwords, but here is a really easy way to dramatically reduce your risk of having your accounts hacked:

Ready?

Here it is:

CHOOSE A STRONG PASSWORD AND USE A DIFFERENT PASSWORD FOR EACH ACCOUNT

Simple, right?

So why do so many people insist on using their pet’s name as their password for their email, their bank account, and a dozen other sites, when they know they shouldn’t? Because it’s TOO HARD to remember all those passwords! Here is a perfect example:

Source: http://xkcd.com/936/

So here’s my other secret to good passwords: use a passphrase. Make it something simple, like for email, you can use “Getting Spam Since 2006” — yes, spaces are usually allowed, and if not, use punctuation: “Getting.Spam.Since.2006” — wow, that’s a 23-character password with upper case, lower case, numbers and special characters! What’s more, it’s easy to remember, easy to type, but very hard to guess. It’s also clear that it applies to your email. For your Amazon account, how about “Spending$More$Money$Since$2002” — again, easy to remember, but hard to guess. Hint: don’t get too tricky, or you’ll forget a detail like whether you use percent signs or dollar signs or whether you capitalized some words but not others.

If you don’t like to remember your passwords, use a password manager. Those are built into Firefox and Chrome browsers. There are also several good standalone products on the market. PC Magazine has a recent article covering the most popular.

So just start today. Change your email password. Tomorrow, change your Amazon or bank password, and the next day change another. Write it down in a notebook if you have to, but I think you’ll find you will remember these new passwords.

And while we’re on the topic, if the service offers 2-step authentication, USE IT! Sure, it’s another step, but you won’t regret the extra security.

As always, Local Computer Pros can help!