Making and keeping good passwords
If you have five, ten, twenty computer passwords or more, you may be risking your online security with inadequate passwords. Take a minute to review a few brief tips for safer passwords:
- Long. The length of your password is the most important security factor. According to one security expert, "Passwords shorter than eight characters are inadequate today."
- Non-obvious. Use a phrase, unusual words, or foreign language words. Common words, meaningful dates, or names should always be avoided.
- Complex. If you can, include uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers. Symbols (!,@%, and so on) aren't allowed for Online Banking passwords, but you should consider using them for passwords on other websites.
- Changed frequently. A 9-character password should be changed at least once a year; shorter passwords more often.
- Used for one site. Your password is only as safe as the LEAST secure site where you use it.
- Not used on untrusted computers, if possible. Avoid your most valuable logins when using public Internet kiosks, library computers, and open wireless networks.
- Private. Never give your passwords to other people. TwinStar employees will never ask for your online banking password.
"That's too hard!"
Conventional thinking suggests that writing down passwords is dangerous. But how in the world can we organize them all?
Security experts actually advise people to write them down, and keep them in your wallet. You already protect your driver's license, credit cards and other valuable information. Protect your passwords the same way.
Of course, if your wallet is lost or stolen, be sure to change the passwords at the same time that you replace the other valuable items. A second list stored in a locked or private area can help you expedite this process.
These articles may help you understand the issues involved in choosing and securing passwords. Being informed is another step in self-protection!
- Password size does matter; InfoWorld, July 21 2006
- Frequently Asked Questions About Passwords; Microsoft TechNet, October 12 2005
- Password Security: What Users Know and What They Actually Do; Usability News, August 2006
- Secure Passwords Keep You Safer; Wired, January 11 2007
- Security Myths and Passwords; Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security, April 19 2006