Today’s technology allows you to hold your life literally in the palm of your hand. Before I got out of bed this morning, I had already skimmed the morning news, checked my bank account, browsed my email and confirmed an upcoming airline flight.
All your most private information is stored on imaginary clouds that seem to be protected by passwords. But even as technology evolves, the methods hackers use to break into your personal information continue to advance as well.
The restrictions and requirements meant to protect these passwords can seem overwhelming. How many characters does my password need? How many uppercase and lowercase letters must I use? Should I alternate every third lowercase letter with a special character, followed by two capital letters and then one number – not to exceed 10 characters? Then, to top it off, we have to change them every 30, 60 or 90 days. I’m exhausted just writing about it.
It’s tempting to try to cheat the system. Maybe I’ll just rotate a number from the end to the beginning, or just use the same password for everything. Nobody could possibly guess that my password for my bank account is my dog’s name, followed by my birthday.
Every day, I log in to no less than 15 different secure systems and applications that all require passwords. Is this annoying? Sure. Is it necessary? Absolutely.
Below are some tips for how to improve the security of your password, and minimize your risk of being hacked.
- Use at least eight characters.
- Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.
- Place the number or special character in the middle of the password – not at the beginning or the end.
- Change your password at least every 90 days, if not every 30 days.
- Use a dictionary word or a common name.
- Use personal information, such as birthdays, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers or names of people you know (this goes for pets too).
- Use numbers or characters to substitute for letters, such as “P@$$w0rd,” because these are still detectable by password-guessing programs and dictionary-based attacks.
- Write your passwords down or share your passwords with friends, family members or co-workers.
Remember, a simple password is simple to hack. I agree that constantly creating and changing passwords is a pain, but it is 100 percent worth it, especially in the business world.
The next time you are prompted to change your password, take a moment to weigh the temporary annoyance of creating a slightly more complicated password with the importance of ensuring your sensitive information is secure. It’s like rotating your tires – necessary maintenance for everyone’s safety!