If you have spent any time on a computer, you may have wondered, “I need to figure out how to keep my passwords safe.” How would you feel if someone managed to guess your password to something that’s very important to you, like your bank account, for instance?
I really wanted to write this article because I think it’s SO IMPORTANT! And people usually think that this is a low priority that they will get to eventually. Why? Probably because nothing bad has happened in regard to their passwords being compromised–yet! But if you’ve been reading the news and have heard about hackers getting access to YOUR PRIVATE INFORMATION, you’ll know that if hackers can manage to hack insurance companies and financial institutions, they can figure out a way into your confidential information.
Who Needs a Password Anyway?
We need passwords now for a whole array of functions these days. From computer accounts to pass codes to your bank accounts and log in details for financial websites. And it’s getting more and more complicated because hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated.
We have passwords for our phones, memberships, email accounts, etc. Many websites you sign up to will ask you to create an account and a password. If you have your own website, you’ll have several passwords ranging from hosting account, email account, website account, etc. Most everything we do requires a password. You need them for EVERYTHING!
Best Practice for Creating Passwords
When you are creating a password for a bank account, for instance, you will probably be required to include a capital letter, a number and a character or perhaps just a series of numbers. For other types of accounts, this is not actually required. But it’s getting harder and harder to keep track of all of them.
I worked in technical support for many years and back then the rule of thumb was to choose a word you’d remember and change o’s to 0’s and e’s to 3’s and r’s to 4’s and throw in a character somewhere. Those days are gone. That is NOT recommended best practice anymore. Hackers have software that run thousands of letter and number combinations to get your password information. Listed below are my do’s and don’ts on how to choose passwords.
- Choose a password that has 6-9 characters; the longer the better
- Be sure to include a capital letter(s), number(s) and at least one character if the site allow it
- Change your passwords every 30-60 days depending on the site
- If you must share your password, be sure it’s with someone you trust such as a partner, parent, etc.
- Consider downloading secure password generating software such as LastPass (more about LastPass below)
- Be sure that your anti-virus software is always up to date!
- If you have a website, consider installing the Wordfence plugin.
- Do not use short passwords that are under 6 characters in length
- Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts
- DO NOT use the word: password or any word like password
- Don’t save your passwords in a spreadsheet or Word document
- Don’t save any password information on your computer’s desktop
- Don’t share your passwords with anyone unless absolutely necessary
- Don’t use words that someone can guess such as your child’s name, your pet’s name, your favorite city, etc.
How Often Should I Change My Passwords
It will really depend on the type of account that has a password. For financial accounts–anything that involves money, it’s a good idea to change your password every 30 days. For other types of accounts, I would change them at least every other month.
How To Keep My Passwords Safe
Let’s face it. You are going to end up having many different passwords for many different reasons. One product I found was LastPass. LastPass is browser based and allows you to create and store all your passwords in one place. You only really need to to remember one password–the master password to open LastPass. You can download it for free and it becomes an extension of your browser.
LastPass will generate a secure password and save it for you in a folder that you can create for different categories such as email account passwords, membership passwords, entertainment, news sites, etc. Each time you go to a site that requires a password, LastPass will automatically fill it in for you. So you don’t have to open LastPass and scroll around to find the password you need for a particular site.
I downloaded LastPass last year and have been using it ever since. It has saved me a lot of time and cut down on my stress levels because I know where my passwords are at all times. Also, I don’t have to think up weird, long passwords because LastPass does that for me.
How Often Do You Change Your Passwords?
Are you diligent about changing your passwords? Do you have a special method you’d like to share? Leave a comment below and please feel free to like and share this post.