Password safety is always an important consideration. It’s especially important to be cautious when you travel and use hotel or public computers, when you share a desktop at work, or when you’re relocating the office and there’s the chance your PC will be set up at someone else’s desk. Lean what components make a password stronger or weaker as well as how often to change passwords.
Strong Versus Weak Passwords
There are a few general rules for elements that should be included in a strong password. Strong passwords usually have at least eight characters although even more characters never hurt. The password should be something that is easy for you to remember but difficult for someone else to guess. Using a password that is similar to your first or last name or username make for a very weak password. However coming up with a random collection of letters and numbers could be impossible for you to remember. So the trick is to find a middle ground. One way to make a password seem random and therefore strong—yet still memorable to you—is to choose a phrase and come up with an abbreviated version of the phrase. For example you may have a favorite phrase such as, “I love taking my dog Cocoa for long walks!” A phrase like this can be abbreviated to,”IltmdCflw!” Generally using a mix of letters and numbers, uppercase and lowercase as well as adding a symbol or two helps to strengthen the password. Avoid using short words, names or phone numbers for passwords. Also don’t use the same combination of numbers in your password as your credit card or bank account PIN number.
How Often To Change Passwords
Some passwords can keep your account safe for years, while others can be easily broken and it’s impossible to know how long you can go without a password security breach or how strong or weak your password really is. So there is no set timeframe for when to change your password. Some recommend changing it annually, others suggest quarterly. It all depends on how important the account is to you. If it’s your online bank account, you may wish to change it more frequently than your Facebook account. There are a few occasions in which you should always change your password. These include anytime you tell someone else or write down your password, when an account gets hacked, or when you use a public or shared computer other than your own computer unless it has a secure login. You will know if it is safe to log into a page if in the URL bar the first characters are https:// rather than http:// notice the S?
Should I Record Usernames and Passwords?
Never write down usernames or passwords as someone else my see it and then… well what’s the point of setting a password? This is where choosing a memorable password becomes important. By all means, never write your password to any account on a post-it note attached to the computer. You might as well invite a mischievous co-worker to break into your account “just for fun.”
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