About Passwords

Are you still using one or two passwords for all your on-line activity?  This article will explore all you need to know about Passwords.  We are all aware of Black Hat activities on line because at one time or another we have all been a victim.  Our credit cards have been compromised; our e-mail contacts have been used; our social media accounts have been mis-used.  But in this day and age it does not make sense for us to decide to do no on-line banking and avoid sites that require registration.  Doing business on line has become almost unavoidable. 

What We  Are Doing On-line:

  • Renewing Library books
  • Submitting tax returns
  • Scheduling appointments with service providers
  • Purchasing products unavailable in local stores
  • Paying for services
  • Registering & paying for events
  • Sending money to other countries
  • Visiting with friends and family who are away
  • Tracking parcels with couriers
  • Watching movies  and TV programs
  • Finding out what’s playing at local movie theaters
  • Finding local restaurants and making reservations
  • Purchasing gift cards
  • Paying monthly bills
  • Taking and storing pictures
  • Finding bus and flight schedules and purchasing tickets
  • Finding local businesses, their locations and telephone numbers
  • Paying for city parking
  • Sending greeting cards
  • Taking courses
  • Reading books
This list could go on and on.  Suffice to say, we can no longer avoid the on-line world.  So we must learn to take care of our information security and that means we must manage our passwords and keep them private.

Here Are Some Password Safety Rules

  1. Make sure that your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, Safari) is not saving passwords.  Although it is very convenient to have your system remember and pre-fill passwords, they are stored in an un-encrypted way and that makes them wide open for hackers to access.  Go to the browser Settings and record on paper all those listed and then delete them. Then turn this feature off.
  2. Record all passwords on paper or in a password software program.  Ensure that changes are kept up-to-date.  Ensure the list is not available to anyone but you.
  3. Never use the same password more than once.  If a hacker does find one somewhere, they cannot access anything else that you are connected with.
  4. Do not use recognizable words and number sequences.  Hackers use programs that can quickly compare your password to dictionaries.  Do not use your birthday numbers because this information can be used in many other situations related to your identity.
  5. Use a random combination of letters, numbers, symbols, spaces upper and loser case.
  6. Change really important passwords as in banking and e-mail – frequently
  7. Do not share a password with anyone – even if you trust them.  You never know how secure their systems are.
  8. Run anti-virus and spybot programs on all your devices regularly.  This is especially important if you access the net using WiFi in public places.
You may be thinking that you will never remember that many random passwords and keeping a paper list updated is very inconvenient. If so, then why not make use of some digital support?  I have used two such programs:  KeePass and LastPass.  A Google search will suggest several others.
Currently I am using LastPass and am very pleased with the service.  By using it I have only one password to remember.LastPass Logo

Here’s a List of LastPass Features 

  1. Generates random passwords for every site you visit on-line that require registration;
  2. Encrypts all password data and stores it on your own computer;
  3. Has browser extensions that cause it to pre-fill using the encrypted database;
  4. Allows storage of other critical information such as credit card and banking information, WiFi passwords, etc.
  5. No information is stored in the cloud or with the LastPass company – they do not even store you entry password;
  6. Will perform an audit of all your passwords  – to indicate when they should be renewed and changed;
  7. Creates folders so that your passwords are classified and findable;
  8. Synchronizes encrypted data file to your phone, tablet or laptop;
  9. Has a free version for use on just one device;
  10. A premium version allows for use on unlimited number of devices for $24 per year
The peace of mind that using encrypted passwords brings, makes the annual cost a very justifiable business expense.

Mindset Monday Challenge

Review your password management practices.  How many do you have?  Based on the notes above, do you feel secure? Decide whether some password protection software is indicated.