Practical Tips for Creating and Managing your Online Passwords

password tipThe average computer and Internet user manages over a dozen passwords for various websites. You probably have passwords for your computer, your company email, your personal online email accounts, your favorite social networking websites, your twitter feed, your online bank account, your favorite online store, and more. Using the same password for everything is not very secure, but keeping track of unique passwords for each can be a pain. Here are some quick tips to help you not only create secure passwords, but also easily manage them:

Do not use real words. Words such as “password”, “god”, “love” or some other common phrase can easily be guessed at by hackers. In addition, hackers use tools that automate guessing – randomly trying words from a dictionary one at a time until it gets it right.

No personal information, please. It’s tempting to use personal information since it’s easy to remember. However, passwords based on your name, your child’s name, your birthday, anniversary and the like can also easily be guessed at or researched online.

Not too short. Again, automated tools can make quick work of short passwords. The longer it is the harder it is for these tools to crack. A good rule of thumb is at least six characters, with eight to twelve being ideal.

Mix it up. Use numbers and special characters in your passwords. One technique is to substitute special characters for letters. For example, a becomes @, e becomes 3, i becomes !, l becomes 1, o becomes 0, s becomes $, and so on. Another tip is to also append or prefix with a special character so that your password looks something like this:  “_!p@$$w0rd!_.”

Use a password management tool. There are several tools that can help you manage and safely store your passwords. Some require you to download software which stores your different passwords encrypted on your hard drive, and you only need to provide one “master” password to access the rest. Others have you store that information online. Particularly handy, especially for managing online passwords, are those that plug into your browser and can autogenerate a password on the fly based on the website you are using.

Creating secure passwords is a must, but managing them can difficult. Using these tips can make the process not only easier but also more effective and safe.

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