How many different user names and passwords do you have for your online accounts?
We’re talking about ALL your accounts: your bank, credit cards, and email. Don’t forget social media like Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter. If you just have cable, you probably have an account with them or you may have multiple streaming services like Hulu, Fubo, and Netflix. This is before you even think about all the online shopping sites you visit throughout the year.
That’s a lot of user names and passwords, right?
Well, think about this: according to a recent article in Tech.co, the average person has 100 online passwords.
NOW, be honest. How many of your different online accounts have the SAME user name and password? The fact is, the only thing more dangerous than sharing personal information on social media is creating simple passwords that are easy for hackers to figure out and not updating them regularly.
What makes a secure password?
Ideally, the more random they are, like: &$3libw80982 the better which is why most temporary passwords issued by websites look like that.
Unfortunately, unless you have a photographic memory, random combinations of numbers, letters and symbols aren’t easy to remember. To shed some light on this tricky subject, we asked our in-house Help Desk Rep Barry Van Gurp what he does to create a secure password and how he remembers them.
As Barry explains: “I create a sentence of an activity I’ve done in my past. For example, let’s say I just signed up for Disney Plus, the first thought that pops into my head when I think about Disney is the vacation my family and I took to Disney World in 1988. I’ll never forget that trip which means the sentence ‘I went to Disney World in 1988’ is a sentence I can easily transform into a memorable password for my Disney Plus account with just a few tweaks.”
Let’s find out what Barry’s sentence method looks like for his fictional Disney Plus account.
Barry’s memory sentence is:
I went to Disney World Florida in 1988!
From that sentence a password can be created by using letters from the words. This example uses the first letters of each word. The result would be:
When it’s time to update, think back to the sentence and look for words that sound like numbers.
EX: the word “to”
If you substitute the number two for the word “to”, your updated password looks like:
From there, you can change the two numbers to a different date that has meaning or use the same process to come up with a different memorable sentence like:
Donald Duck has been my favorite Disney character since I was six.
Just like randomly generated passwords, Barry recommends a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and those characters above the number row on the keyboard with at least nine characters or more.
Barry also strongly suggests NOT using the same password for all your accounts and avoiding personal details that are easy for potential identity theft thieves to figure out such as family, pets, license plate numbers, or anything that could be associated with you or your family.
This is all fine and good but even Barry admits that it’s impossible to keep 100 passwords in your head. At some point, you need to write them down, preferably NOT on your computer in a document called “Passwords.doc.”
“I use a 3×5 spiral bound book to record my passwords,” Barry says. “I know this is probably a theft device, but I keep close track on where this book is stored. I’m now on my third book. The previous books get shredded when I no longer need them. Garbage is not the place.”
Barry uses a single page of the notebook for each online account where he notes his user name on the first line and the associated password on the second line. “When I need to update, I put a single line through the old one and put the new one on the next line. I don’t block it out entirely in case I need to refer to the previous password so the single line ensures it’s still readable.”
Finally, Barry recommends changing all passwords every six months, if not sooner because there’s no such thing as being too careful these days.
Instead of writing all your passwords down, Chrome and Firefox will store all of your online passwords but this makes locking your computer even more important. If you choose to enable your browser to remember your passwords, be sure to check in the settings as to where they are stored. There is also a password locker application available for iPhone, Android and PC called ‘KeePass’ that uses bank-level encryption to generate and store all your passwords – even your banking and other secure details you don’t want to share with anyone! This makes it almost impossible for someone to access your information even if they somehow got your phone or computer – best part is, KeePass is free!
At give IT. get IT., we don’t care how you manage your user names and passwords as long as it works for you and keeps all of your accounts secure. Regular updating is your best defense against identity theft so use this power wisely and whatever you do, don’t give identity thieves clues to what your passwords might be by answering fun questions on social media! Sharing tips like this is all part of our mission to help people of all abilities and backgrounds to be more efficient computer users.
Do you have a great method for remembering your passwords? Share it with us in the comments!