Oh, people, people. Given half a chance, I know that at least half of you will use a password like your child’s name or your favorite cartoon character or, if you’re really ambitious, your spouse’s initials plus his or her birthday.
I know this because so many of you have given me your passwords so that I can do my work.
But, ta-dah! I’m here to save you from those crooks trying to hack your online bank account or credit card. Here are the requirements for a safe password:
- At least 8 characters. Twelve is better. Twenty is fabulous!
- A combination of upper case and lower case letters
- At least one number
- A character, if the site allows it, like # or $
- No string of letters that has any meaning, such as “AcE” or “pIn”
- Especially, no numbers or letters that have anything to do with you. If your name is George and you live at 4162 Smith St., don’t create a password like “gEo4162#” Too easy!
Do what I do. I have an Excel spread sheet (my cheat sheet) that I keep my passwords on. And that spread sheet is on a jump drive that doesn’t go in my computer unless I need to add a new login or change something. Then, and only then, it’s in my computer just long enough to make changes and print a new cheat sheet.
On my computers I use Norton Internet Security, and I’ve set up the Identity Safe and Browser Protection and the master password is a ridiculously long combination of numbers, letters and characters that have no meaning at all. It took me 2 months of entering it, over and over, every time I opened my browser, to finally remember it, but having to refer to that cheat sheet for a couple of months was a lot easier than having to deal with identity theft.
Don’t you agree?