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Secure Your Online Presence: Passwords

Online use these days requires so many passwords… Why do we need so many of them!? Simply put, your password is your online identity. The better the password, the less likely someone will have access to your personal information. You see it on the news, or in online articles; passwords are compromised each and every day, leaving a wealth of your own information to be accessed and abused. Today, we’re going to take a look at methods we can use to minimize these occurrences and keep your online identity safe and sound while you browse and shop.

Write them down in a central location.

Keeping a notebook at home with all of your passwords can be very handy. Now, you will need to keep it updated, but the time and organization is well worth it. There are also programs out there such as LastPass, in which you enter all of your passwords into a stored database, and only have to remember one. The best part about LastPass is that it’s completely free. There is also a paid version which allows you to sync your passwords to mobile devices for a whopping $12 per year! You may be cautious of having your passwords saved by a program, however, their servers are far more secure than any of our personal machines. Either way, having a list of your passwords will benefit you as we move forward-you will likely be required to make many more passwords in the future!

Create a stronger password.

This one is pretty obvious! People want your passwords for a variety of reasons; maybe they want your email password in order to send out spam, or your Amazon password to retrieve personal information. Regardless of the reason, most passwords are far too simple. To put it into perspective, the modern computer that a potential hacker would use will ‘crack’ any password with 8 characters or less within 6-8 hours. Or, if you have a wireless network, a person could technically ‘listen’ to any information passed if in range of your wireless router.

Whether for email, shopping, banking, or even your WiFi network, you want your password to be a minimum of 8 characters. The strongest passwords will also have numbers, symbols (such as !, #, *), and both upper or lower case characters. You want to make the characters random, as well, for the best results. Here is a good example of a strong password: 1rAtRpfop*AawaFd

This may seem very random and difficult to remember; however, it’s called a passphrase. Taking a phrase-in this case, the first letter of every word in the children’s rhyme Ring Around the Rosie-and making a password out of the first letter of each word. I’ve added a number at the beginning, four capital letters, and an asterisk at the break after ‘posies’. You can do this for anything: family member initials, favorite shows, or even quotes.

Another thing to remember is that a 20 character password with words is far more secure than an 8 character randomized password. For example, you may use 4 words separated by punctuation or symbols if it’s easier to remember. An example would be: horse.battery!clock*cow

Avoid your name, any portion of the email address, and especially the word ‘password’ in your password (for obvious reasons!). For your convenience, I’ll link a tool below that you can use to test the strength of any password.

Tips for the Future

Microsoft has some great tips for passwords, listed here:

Also, a wonderful tool to test your new, current, or potential passwords:

A link to the LastPass software: