© James Kanjo, 2009
Passwords are extremely important for protecting your information in the modern digital world. Yet time after time people find that their accounts/computers are still being hacked into.
I'm going to show you how to effectively manage your passwords, and protect your information.
But first, let's go back to basics. Why do we need passwords?
A password is a special code that gives an individual access to his or her data. You must NEVER tell another person your password. NEVER EVER SHARE YOUR PASSWORD. The moment you share your password is the moment you create a security hole in your confidential data.
If you are the only person to know your password, then you are the only person who can access your data, and your information remains secure and confidential.
In the modern world, people utilise several services that require a password:
- Computer's User Login
The easy way to access your multiple accounts is to have the same password for everything (which is what most people do). That way, you don't need to struggle to maintain multiple passwords for a dozen or so services. People also tend to have their password as something that you know, but most other people don't know.
For the sake of this article, I'm going to have my password as my sir-name: “kanjo”
“kanjo” is something that is easy to remember for me.
BAD! BAD! BAD!
Here are the flaws:
- If you have the SAME password for EVERYTHING, then somebody with your password has access to EVERYTHING
- If your password involves the use of WORDS, then it makes it easily GUESSABLE
- If your password is EASY to remember, then it is easy for SOMEBODY ELSE to remember
So how do we conquer these flaws? We simply do the opposite:
- Use a DIFFERENT password for everything. If somebody has your password, then they can access ONLY ONE of your services
- Make your password use RANDOM characters that do not form words. This way if somebody types in every word in the dictionary, they will NEVER guess your password
- If your password uses random characters, then it is DIFFICULT to remember. This means that if a stranger glances at your password, their brain will be unable to make sense of it, and will be unable to store it in their memory (i.e. difficult for OTHERS to remember)
Great ways to make your password even more secure is to:
- MiX tHe cAsE oF YOuR leTtErS
- Use numbers (0…9)
- Use symbols (!@#$%^&*?)1
- Keep length of password between 6 and 10 characters2
So I'm going to create a password right now by randomly selecting keys on my keyboard: u&D3h%
As you can obviously tell, “u&D3h%” is a much more secure password than “kanjo”. You can't remember the password by looking at it, because you can't actually speak the password as a word… you can only read it character-by-character, something the brain is not good at storing in the memory. In addition, you can't guess a password like that.
The only way for you to remember your password is through continuous use… If you use your new password twice a day, then you should have it memorised in less than a fortnight.
Now in terms of using different passwords for different services, there is an easy (yet secure) way to do this. All you do is simply append an acronym of each service you are using to your password. For example:
- Computer: u&D3h%C
- Facebook: u&D3h%FB
- Twitter: u&D3h%T
- YouTube: u&D3h%YT
- iTunes: u&D3h%iT
All you need to do is remember ONE password, but use a different acronym for each service that you use. This way, you essentially have a different password for every service. If somebody has one of your passwords, then they can't access any other website.
To make your password even more secure, you can place the acronym in the middle of the password — as opposed to having it at the end.
Another thing to note is that you should ALWAYS change your main password EVERY SINGLE YEAR. It is foolish to have a “one password for life” policy.
In terms of trying to remember your brand new password, the best way is to NOT store it digitally, but to write it down on a piece of paper, and keep it in a personal place (your wallet, for instance). After you have memorised your password (usually takes less than two weeks) destroy the piece of paper to keep your password secure in your head.
λ James Kanjo