Are My Passwords Secure?
Have you ever wondered… “Are my passwords secure?” Do you even care? Learn in less than 2 minutes why it’s important, and how to create a secure and easy-to-remember password for all of your accounts and online services.
Most of us have a few, several, or many online accounts; Amazon, iTunes, Google, Netflix, etc. If you’re using the same password on all of these accounts, you are at risk of getting your account hacked into.
- INCLUE: Strong passwords are at least 8 or more characters in length and use upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols (!*@&#^$%)
- Nothing Obvious: It must not contain easily guessed information such your birth date, phone number, spouse’s name, pet’s name, kid’s name, login name, etc.
- Avoid Words: It shouldn’t contain words found in the dictionary.
- Memorable: Create a phrase, motto, or affirmation. For example: “Abundance And Joy Fill My Heart And Life“
- Break down your phrase to an abbreviation = aajfmhal
- Make this secure by replacing with some capital letters, numbers, and symbols = A&JfMh+L I use a pattern of Cap First, then lower case, breaking 2 letters with a symbol or number if possible. In this example, I have no words which can be replaced with a number.
- Add something into this secure string which is specific to the online service. For example, for your Apple ID, you might want to use A1 or aI – so now your password for Apple would be A&JfMh+LA1. And for Amazon maybe you would use Az so your password could be A&JfMh+LAz.
No, this is not my password at the moment. This is just one of many approaches to creating a secure password. What I like most about this approach is that it creates something you can remember and use as a base for all of your passwords. You can decide where you want to place the additional marker for each property; beginning, middle, or end.
How do I know if my password is secure?
Here are some ways you can test your password. Don’t worry, they have no idea where you are using this or who you are, so it’s not collecting these to hack into your accounts. These free online services are just for testing your password.
Why Have Different Passwords For Each Service?
Using base words like you pet’s name, or a color, are the most insecure passwords. Robot programs are skimming the web, looking for access into any account. ANY ACCOUNT. This can be your online shopping account, email, Facebook, whatever. When they get into one account, they will use that same password to attempt to get into other accounts. If you use a different password for each of your accounts (such as iTunes, Amazon, your mobile billing account) you’ll have less of a chance at getting hacked.
When Do I Give My Password To Tech Support?
Never. Ever. No. Not Ever. Stop. If you are asked to share your account info through an email from your bank, insurance company, or even iTunes or Amazon, it’s a scam. No legitimate company would ask you to breach your account security. If you suspect that there may be a problem with your account, simply go to the service directly online and log in. If there is a security message for you, it will be displayed in your account somewhere at the top of the page. Otherwise, call the company directly. Never use the link or phone number in the mysterious email.
Learn More About Secure Passwords
- Apple helps you with your Apple ID Password
- Google wants to help you secure your passwords
- Microsoft offers a page to learn more about secure passwords.
- If you want to geek out even more, here’s a Wiki on Password Strength.
Safari now has a very secure suggestion system which saves your password in Apple’s iCloud, and provides all of your iDevices the same access. Just allow Safari to suggest that password and you’re done. That easy. It is saved in your Keychain, accessible only by you as an admin into your Mac. Once you tie your devices with your iCloud account and then complete the verification steps, all your devices talk to each other and allow you to access all sites and services from any of your devices. Apple has won praise from privacy proponents for their efforts to encrypt their latest technologies (hardware and software).
UPDATE Nov 2017: Comparitech has a couple of resources which can also help:
http://comparitech.net/password-generator – secure password generator
http://comparitech.net/password-strength – password strength test
UPDATE April 2014: In response to Heartbleed… Here’s a great article about changing your passwords on a yearly basis. I suggest each Daylight Savings switch.