Do you use the same password for multiple financial accounts? You’re not alone. In fact, an Accenture survey reports more than half of Internet users have ONE universal password for everything. This makes thieves very happy. And it explains why we (people) and not technology are now the weakest link in online security!
Here’s how to make thief-thwarting passwords…
1. Make them long — 8 characters at minimum, 14 is good.
2. Include a variety of letters, numbers and symbols (but no sequentials like 1234).
3. Use upper and lower case letters.
4. Avoid including personal information like names, birthdays and addresses (easy to hack).
5. Use a password generator like FreePasswordGenerator or PC Tools Password Generator.
6. Use a memorable sentence to build each password, like “I like to eat pizza twice a week plus Sunday, which becomes iL2ePi**a2xwK+S.
7. Test your password strength using a password checker like The Password Meter.
…and store them safely:
1. Write them by hand on paper. Quaint, but safe. Then put the paper someplace that’s not obvious. Under your computer? No. In a book? That’s better. In a locked file cabinet? Better yet.
2. Keep them on an encrypted USB flash drive that you keep with you or hidden.
3. If you must keep passwords on your computer, do so only in an encrypted, password-protected file or use a password management program.
Now that you’ve got great passwords all stashed away, here are some tips to keep them confidential:
1. Don’t let websites “remember” your password. Type them in each time.
2. Don’t use a default password that’s been assigned to you. Change it ASAP.
3. Don’t share them with anyone, even your loved ones (who could inadvertently tell someone else), and especially not via email.
4. Don’t enter them into computers you don’t control, like those in Internet cafes, hotel business centers and other public spaces.
5. Don’t forget to change business passwords every three months and personal passwords every six months.