Advice For Better Passwords

Password padlock

For many of your online accounts, a password is the only thing keeping criminals out. This makes users incredibly reliant on passwords, but many still make mistakes when choosing one. Kirsten Dunleavy at the Bullguard blog explains “the password management paradox” and how to best choose your passwords.

  •  Unique Passwords

The best practice for securing each of your accounts is to choose a unique password for each of them. This way, if one account is hacked, your other accounts are still safe and secure. If you use the same password for multiple accounts, one account getting hacked could give a criminal access to all of your information. The issue associated with creating unique passwords, however, is that users can’t remember all of them. This is the paradox of password management because if you can’t remember your passwords, it makes them less secure. Users take actions that weaken the strength of passwords like writing them down, or storing them unencrypted, continuously having to have passwords emailed to them or reset by admins or ignoring a prompt to update an old password.

  • Memory Tricks

You need to use different passwords for each account, but you can still use some tricks to help you remember them. Using memorable phrases for each account is one way, but unless that phrase applies directly to the account, it might be hard to keep track of which password goes with which site. Another way is to pick one, strong password and then alter it based on what site you’re using it with. So, the first seven or eight characters of every account might be the same, but the last few characters are specific to that account. Maybe add Y!00 for Yahoo accounts or GO0 for Google accounts. Whatever trick you use, remember that it’s important to use upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols in each password.

  • Password Managers

Users’ many problems with passwords has led to the rise of password managers. These services are often free and will store all of your passwords for you. Many will even offer to log-in to stored accounts automatically when you visit the corresponding website. So, you can make each password strong and unique and not have to worry about forgetting them. Your passwords are encrypted and stored behind one master password. Make this your strongest password and make sure it’s one you’ll remember. Use a long phrase and replace letters with numbers or symbols.

Although biometrics and two-step authentication are both being used more, passwords are going to be the main tool used to secure online accounts for a long time. Make sure that you’re using them effectively.

At Geek Rescue, we specialize in security. To improve security on your computer, at your home or office, or fix the damage of malware or viruses on your machine, call us at 918-369-4335.

January 8th, 2014