LinkedIn recently reported that it was hacked and the passwords to 6.5 million accounts were compromised. If you have a LinkedIn account, make sure you change your password to protect yourself. Take a look at a few tips to make a strong password to protect yourself in the future!
There are several rules you should know when you are creating a new password:
1. Always use 8 or more characters
2. Never use a dictionary word or a person's name
3. Always use letters, numbers, & symbols
4. Never use personal information to create a password
5. Always capitalize random letters
Now this sounds like a lot of rules. I know. But there is a super fun way to create a password that meets all of these requirements and is still easy to remember! Your homework, should you choose to accept it, is to watch TV. I want you all to find a quote that makes you giggle and write it down. Make sure your quote is at least 8 words long.
I took a quote from Eddie Izzard: "Thank you for flying Church of England, Cake or Death?" Now, there is no way I am going to type in all that text every time I need to sign into my email account. So I am just going to take the first letter out of each word to start my password:
I can pretty much guarantee that word is not in any dictionary in the world. We are off to a good start! My quote even has natural capitals to it! Yay! Now I want to add in some numbers and symbols to make it even harder to crack. The simple way to do this is with common letter for number substitution. Pick a few of these tricks to apply to your password:
A = 4
a = @
E = 3
H = #
I = 1
L = !
n = ^
o = 0
s = $
t = +
So if I use a couple of these, my password will become:
Done! It's a beautiful password! And it has the added benefit of reminding me of something that makes me laugh every time I type it in! Any time you create a new password, check its strength on PasswordMeter.com to make sure it will be secure enough for you. This is great! We've come up with a strong new password that a decryption program will have a hard time cracking. Awesome! On to the next step. I commonly work with people who use the same password for their email account as they do for every other account they have on the web. This is bad. Very bad. If you use the same password for every account, a hacker only has to hack one account and then they have access to all of your accounts. Many people have sensitive accounts linked to their email accounts, like their online banking account, credit card account, or amazon.com account. There is nothing wrong with this in and of itself, but if you are using the same password for all of these, you have just given a hacker access to all of them for a minimal amount of effort on their end.
You will hear from almost every IT security professional in the world that you should have a different password for every account you have. For most of us, that is just not realistic, I just can't keep track of that many passwords. There is other information I would much rather focus on than remembering 100+ passwords. However, you do need to have some differentiation in your passwords. Here is my suggestion: make a single password for groups of accounts so you know which password goes with which and it will be easier to remember. Here's how I split up the groups of my passwords:
1. Email - all of my email accounts have the same password
2. Banking and money
3. Just for Fun (e.g. Facebook or Yahoo! Games)
When I go to sign into any of my email accounts, I know the password, because it is the same for all of them. True, you get much better security to have a different password for each account, but realistically most people won't do that. If I can get most of you to create 4 separate passwords and use them, you have just made yourself infinitely more secure!
I know many people have a concern that they will forget the new password they just created, so you might want to write them down. I do not suggest this practice, but it's better than losing your email account entirely. If you do write down your password somewhere, make sure you store it someplace where it will be safe, like in a password protected Excel spreadsheet or in a plastic bag in your freezer. NEVER write it on a sticky note on your computer and NEVER give your password to anyone else.
If you would like more information about online safety, please attend our Computer Basics: Staying Safe Online class coming up onMonday, July 2 from 2 - 3:30 p.m.at the Central Library on 13th and Broadway. We will cover more information on passwords as well as a few other tricks you can use to keep yourself safe online.