Between work and home, we use online services and software to manage many important aspects of our lives. This means that there is a lot of valuable, private information floating around among the clouds. Protecting this information is vital for both organizations and individuals. One of the easiest ways to protect your privacy and secure valuable, confidential information is to manage your passwords effectively. Here are 8 best practices to do just that!
1. Do Not Write Passwords Down
This probably seems like common sense–and it should be–but a majority of people have at least one password written down for reference. If you need to write down passwords, then secure your information in a lock box–not under your keyboard.
2. Do Not Share Your Password
Again, this is a common sense situation; however, many people share personal passwords with immediate family. In regards to a work environment, many people share departmental passwords or software passwords. This can cause an issue of not knowing exactly who made changes to the system, potentially costing you your job.
3. Do Not Store Passwords In Digital Documents
If you keep your password list in a Word document, you are asking for hackers to come and steal your identity. Likewise, in business, you are opening up the door for competitors to invade your proprietary documents.
4. Avoid Obvious Passwords Like… “Password”
You might be surprised that many people use passwords that are the college they attended, their kids’ names, or their pets’ names. Most systems and websites require a minimum amount of security points to be used when creating passwords for access; but also make sure that you are not using personal information that is easy to access or guessed. A good example of a password that is easily guessed is the year you graduated high school and your favorite color–mine would be pink99…. too easy.
5. Do Not Use p@$$w0rd$ Based On Real Words
You might think you are being slick by using mu$t@ng1 for your password, but replacing symbols to represent letters is a common password trick. This translates into hackers and password cracking tools that prey on this technique.
6. Include At Least 1 Capital Letter, 1 Symbol, And 1 Number
This works best when the characters are completely random. Again, the symbols and numbers should not correlate with the letters used to create an actual word or phrase. This should be something that means nothing to you, other than you must remember it to access your accounts.
7. You Should Be Able To Remember Your Password
An awesome, random password that secures your digital information is useless if you cannot remember it. But, again, DO NOT jeopardize it by writing it down carelessly. Commit it to memory with a pneumonic device or, if you must write it down, store it in a locked safe. If you don’t want to store your password list in a safety deposit box, you can download a free tool or consider online services (like keepass.com) to securely store your passwords for you.
8. Your Password Should Be Complex And Not Guessable
This last tip basically reiterates what I have stated thus far: pick a random, complex password that is not guessable based on your personal information, proper names, or a formula; if you are no good at creating a random password, then you can visit a free site like Norton Identity Safe.
I hope you found these tips helpful in managing the many passwords you likely use everyday. And hopefully you’re already following all of them. If you found that you’re not, the good news is that you can start today!