Password security along with solid anti virus / malware / spyware defense is your key safety mechanism online. Something I notice regularly with clients and friends is that most people can’t remember their passwords.
Passwords are the keys to our digital lives, protecting not only our emails but also our pictures, contacts, notes, and more. With passwords being as important as they are, I thought I would talk about a few quick tips to make sure you’re never left locked out– but everyone else is.
A large part of any userbase for a given web service will inevitably get caught using one of the top 1000 most common passwords- an easily available list that a PC can run through near instantly.
A password like “password” or “12345” is essentially a wish for your private information to be scattered as far across the Earth as possible- but there are many other hazardous passwords to choose from. A solid combination of letters, numbers, and symbols make a password much harder to crack.
If the password you’re choosing is for something frivolous- like a free internet radio profile, or a forum account- there’s no need to go overboard with the password. An 8 character minimum is probably enough security to prevent someone from finding out just how much teen pop you’ve been listening to.
If it really bothers you, or if this password gives someone access to banking or business or credit card info- you’ll want to go longer. Think 25 characters, if you can stomach it. More on that below.
Making a hard to guess password is great but if you can’t remember your own password it’s not a good one. With the now widespread use of always on devices such as smartphones, most people sign in once and never have to sign in for months if ever.
This is a big reason why people forget their passwords. Try to use something that you will remember, write it down, store it somewhere safe just like you would with a spare key.
One cool service you can use is called LastPass, and as the name suggests, if you use it you’ll only have to remember one password.
You set up a master password, and LastPass will autofill usernames and passwords for you wherever you go- just don’t forget that one password. Really, don’t. You’ll definitely want to write one down and keep it in the safe.
LastPass is great for people who have too many passwords to remember. It means you can make very complicated, very long, very different and hard to remember passwords, because you won’t have to remember them anyway. It’s actually very secure and we use it ourselves. Download LastPass here to try it out.
[warning]The worst place to keep an account password is either on a sticky note next to your work computer, or on a well-lit billboard by the highway. Take your pick.[/warning]
A recommended strategy for creating a long, memorable password is to modify a long sentence in a way that makes sense to you personally. One example password I’ve seen that demonstrates this, is created by taking the sentence and making it cryptic in a way you can remember.
This little piggy went to market
All your brain needs to remember is that the first part is abbreviated, WENT is capitalized, 2 is for to, and & is for “et”. You’ll find that these types of passwords are very easy to remember for such long, complex passwords.
And hey, don’t actually use our example passwords. If you ever see an example password talked about on the internet, consider it gone. This password was good until it was destroyed by people posting it online.[/warning]
Many people skip through the initial setup in a rush to play with their new gadget. I can’t tell you how many times I have been helping someone with a smart phone and they can’t remember what their gmail password is.
Don’t lose your apps, emails, and contacts when you can easily recover them with a simple text message. I highly recommend giving a secondary email and or a contact number so that Google/Yahoo/Apple/Microsoft can send you an email or text to reset your password if you’re having a bad day and can’t access your account.
For those of you who prefer the TLDR summary, here are the main take aways:
Use a password you can remember
If you write it down, keep it in a safe place
Make sure you have a backup plan to recover your accounts
Always use 2-Step Verification
At the end of the day there is only so much you can do, it boils down to common sense, luck, and best practices.
There’s a lot of useful info out there that isn’t in the article. What do you think deserves a mention? We’ll throw it on up there and give you credit! You should also remember to subscribe to the Sultan Solutions Tech Blog!