Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Longer is Better

Now, I know what you were thinking when you read the title. After all, we read romance, which is why I chose the title I did, to hook you.
But this post is about security. Specifically, passwords. I know some of you have been hacked recently, and there's nothing more aggravating than spending a day changing every flipping password on every flipping site you’ve ever visited.
So, here’s a primer, borrowed heavily culled from several sites that know a little bit about keeping your password from getting into the wrong hands.  It has little to do with writing, but a lot to do with your peace of mind.
Changing your password every 90 days per company policy isn’t effective.  Passwords can be cracked within minutes, if not seconds.  The only thing changing your password will do is add more time to the day after you change it when you have to call IT and the code is corrupted and they end up bringing down your entire email account and rebuilding it from scratch (can anyone tell how I spent my morning?)
Now that I have that off my chest, here are several ways to create a secure password:
·      No dictionary words, proper nouns, or foreign words.  Or words spelled backward, or substituting symbols for letters, i.e. P@$$w0rd$.  The password cracking software is onto you, you clever devil.
·      Don’t use the same password for all accounts.  I’m guilty.  You’re guilty.  We’re all guilty.  Take the time now to change them, or pay later.
·      No personal information, like the name of your children or pet, or any dates, addresses or any numbers that could be found on your Facebook account or a piece of mail.
But, Cheryl, what can I use? 
·      Think pass phrases.  Abbreviated.  “Every good boy does fine in music class” becomes “Egbdf1mc”.  Notice how I changed the “I” to “1”?  Or “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain” becomes “Tr1Sfm0tp”.  Choose a phrase that has meaning to you and relates to the website.
·      Longer is better.  Six to nine characters are recommended, but go longer if your operating system allows it (some are limited to eight characters).  How about, "pleasestopyourdogfrombarkingyousickSOB?"  or psydfbyssob? or "p$ydfby$$0b?"  (Can you tell my neighbor has no sense of responsibility?).
·      Mix up your characters.  Upper case, lower case, numbers, symbols and foreign characters if you know how to use them. (foreign characters, I mean.  I assume you can navigate your way through upper and lower case, symbols and numbers).
If you have trouble remembering, take advantage of a password administrative program.  I use a SecureSafe app, but there are others, some free.  Just don’t forget the password to your password protection program.
Avoid the pain.  Stay safe.  Don't spit into the wind, and when visiting Rome, follow the nuns.


Patricia Kiyono said...

I LOVE your password suggestions! And thanks for the reminders. There's nothing more irritating than being hacked.

J.C. Hanks said...

I hold onto my old Blackbery Curve specifically for the Password Safe (and since it's not an active phone it has no internet connections).

Helps with the 40+ accounts that I have, and no, none of them use the same password...although it's only the accounts I use on a rare (i.e. annual) basis that I ever really have to look up.