Passwords protect your most sensitive personal, financial and business information. They are the key to accessing membership, financial, and other web sites that you are a member of. All sorts of havoc can occur in your life if some unauthorized person discovers your password. Here are some tips for making that event less likely:
1. Don't use easily guess passwords like a date of birth, spouse, child's or pet's name. In fact, don't use any word or phrase that even remotely relates to you or your world. You need to use a password which is difficult for anyone to guess but is not so difficult for you to remember.
2. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers to make the password harder to guess. Some web sites do not allow symbols so you may not be able to always use them. Almost all web sites treat passwords as CaSe SeNsItIvE so mixing case is a good idea.
3. Make your password at least eight characters long. Longer is even better. The more characters there are the harder it will be to guess.
4. Use a different password for each account or web site. That way if one gets compromised you'll still be protected elsewhere.
5. Change your passwords frequently. Pick a period, like the 15th of each month, and change all of your passwords on that date.
6. Do not write your passwords down anywhere. You never know who is checking your drawers or file cabinet when you're not around. Also, do not store your passwords in an electronic filing device like a PDA. That's just as insecure as a piece of paper if you lose the device and someone who is less than honest finds it.
If you have too many passwords to keep track of then consider using a password manager program. There are a lot of them on the market but be careful: some of them contain "adware" which will pop up ads every time you are online. Most of the free password managers contain some degree of adware. Here's one that doesn't: http://www.roboform.com/
7. Never share your password with anyone else. If you have to, then change it immediately afterwards.
8. Avoid using "dictionary" words. There are password-cracking programs that will check every word in the dictionary. If you want to use words then break them up with non-word characters. For example: BuIlT*99$APPlE is difficult for anything other than the most sophisticated password-cracking program to guess because it is combined with non-alphabet characters and it is in mixed case.
9. Don't use "password" or "none" as your password! Don't even use "PaSsWoRd"!
10. If someone calls or sends you e-mail claiming that they are from your bank, or credit card company, or anywhere else that you have a password with, NEVER give them your password or PIN no matter what story they tell you. It's a scam. No one will ever ask for your password. Legitimate administrators of your password-protected accounts do not need your password to access your files during the normal course of their business dealings with you.
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