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A Word on Passwords

Recently a friend from San Diego was visiting and needed to access my voicemail to hear an important message left for him. He couldn’t reach me to ask for my password, so he tried to guess it. He got it on the first try! I guess my birth year wasn’t such a difficult code to crack.

I once read that 90% of all passwords can be broken in 20 minutes or less. Shocking, but true. And don’t blame it on computer hackers, they aren’t the ones that decided to use birthdays, anniversaries and children’s names as their passwords. We’re the ones that did that because they’re easy to remember. However, they are also easy to obtain from public records.

Below are a few words on passwords:

  1. Do NOT use your ATM pin number or any bank password for a password on the computer. It makes it too easy for someone to possibly access your money.
  2. Choose something obscure but easy to remember, if you need a password when registering on a web site (i.e. to purchase airline tickets or access an online bridge game). Perhaps your favorite animal, the street you grew up on, the nickname only your grandmother called you.
  3. You don’t need to use a different password for each web site that requires one. Just have your password to access the Internet be different. All the others can be the same.
  4. Keep track of your passwords. Have a piece of paper tucked away in your desk (not in your wallet!) that lists all your passwords. As soon as you choose a password, make note of the web site it is associated with and any user name that you may have chosen.

With a little creative thinking you can better protect your privacy while on the Internet. If you’ve already chosen easy-to-guess passwords, most sites allow you to change them. Please do.