Strong Passwords for Safe Data
Passwords are important and represent the only wall between bad people and your money and life. But it is hard because we also know that passwords, and the need to remember passwords, is a challenge. But despite the challenge, it merits significant attention. It also requires information and learning about good password practice.
This lesson will provide rules and tips for good password practice and offer a formula for creating a strong password that can be adapted to the different sites that you access.
Tips for Creating Strong Passwords.
We have to use passwords to protect our online information. However, some passwords are simply weak. Some of YOUR passwords may have been shared in a security breach. Let’s start out with some tips and “rules” for creating strong passwords:
- Never use personal information like children’s names or address information or even car license plate.
- Use a longer password. Your password should be at least six characters long and eight characters is better.
- Don’t use the same password for each account.
- Try to include numbers, symbols, and both uppercase and lowercase letters.
- Avoid using words that can be found in the dictionary, place names even acronym or common sequences like “abcdef.”
- Random passwords are the strongest.
Create Strong Passwords from a Favorite Phrase
Strong passwords can easily be created from a song lyric, poem or other easily remembered phrase. The following example creates a strong password from a common children’s song.
Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow
Here is that formula from the graphic above.
- Take a lyric from a song or a favorite phrase. Choose something meaningful to you.
- And then you use the first letter from each word so it becomes: mhallifwwas
- And then you keep any upper case lettters MhallIfwwas
- And then you can change some of the letters into similar numbers or special characters: Mhallifww@$
- Here is a change approach, replace all s’s with $, replace l’s with 1 (one), replace a’s with @, replace any number with the shifted keyboard equivalent, 1 (one) with !, 3’s with #, etc.
- Then add a variable for the site for which it will be used.
- Start with a punctuation like a : or .
Add upper 1st letter and next two consonants
Amazon = :Amz Facebook = :Fcb
Google = :Ggl Senior Tech Club = :Snr
- Start with a punctuation like a : or .
Having a standard formula for a password as is proposed in the recipe will result in passwords that you should be able to remember. Every password will be based on the same approach and will only vary by the site variable, the last three characters at the end of the password.
Write them Down
However, if you feel more comfortable by writing them down, do it. However, promise me that you won’t record them on scraps of paper or sticky notes. Instead, go out to your local dollar store and buy a cheap notebook specially for this purpose. Organize the notebook by alphabet and leave plenty of lines between each entry so that you can log password changes. One person in our community has developed an ingenious tools with index cards on a circular ring.
This can actually be purchased from office supply stores and Amazon. One product name is Oxford Just Flip-It.
Consider a Password Manager
If you are a little more technology savvy, you might want to consider a Password Manager. A Password Manager is a set of tools that will help you manage, store and submit your passwords where they are required.
The Password Manager used at the Senior Tech Club is Last Pass. It was rated the best password manager at the Lifehacker.com site and best of all, can be used for free. Apple provides a password manager that works best in the Apple environment. It is called Keychain.
Use strong passwords to keep your data and information safe.
The Senior Tech Club offers this guide as a public service. No approach to security can guarantee 100% security, and nothing in this publication is meant to provide any warranty or guarantee of the security of your passwords.
The Senior Tech Club recommends the following additional resources for members that wish to pursue additional and/or advanced information on this recipe:
Mosaic Foundation – Create secure passwords to keep your identity safe Includes good video
AARP TEK | How to Make Passwords Secure | AARP – YouTube
U.S. Dept of Homeland Security – Creating a Password Tip Sheet (PDF)