Why You Should Protect Your Passwords

Between your bank, credit card and online accounts, you're sure to accumulate many passwords. While these codes are intended to protect your data, they may not be as secure as you think. In fact, without protecting these passwords, your personal information could be at great risk.

Far too many individuals are careless with their passwords. They'll carry them around on wads of paper, leave them sitting in unlocked desk drawers and essentially create passwords that are easy pickings for computer crackers. This article will offer some insight on how to properly protect your passwords and avoid becoming another victimized statistic.

Creating Secure Passwords

Even proven security mechanisms such as encryption can be broken, especially if the password is not secure. Choosing a weak password is like having no protection at all, inviting the intruders into the system to enjoy free reign over your account.

There are many rules to creating a strong password; one is to never to make it the same as your username. Don't use identifying codes like your birth date, child's name, license plate number, etc. You also shouldn't use trivial patterns such "ABCDEF" or "555555555." There are numerous hacking programs that would crack such easy passwords in a matter of seconds.

When you hear the terms "strong password," it refers to length and a good mix of characters. The longer the password, the more secure it is. If you can, choose a character set that contains a combination of numbers, letters and symbols. The addition of each character makes for several more possible combinations. A good length is anywhere from 8 to 12 characters long.

Protecting Your Passwords

Your job isn't done after creating a strong password. From there, you must work on keeping it safe. In a sense, they are the keys to your identity and deserve the tightest security. Here are a few things you never want to do with your passwords:

Store them on unencrypted portable media - Whether it's a trendy USB flash drive, a PDA or CD media, your passwords should never be stored in unprotected environments. These storage units can be stolen or lost with ease and are also susceptible to damage.

Share them with other users - What's the sense in protecting your information if you're only going to lend out the key to outsiders? You need to be strict with your password and keep it secure from business associates, friends and even your spouse. Most important, you never want to give away your password via email. This is critical as many con artists will attempt to lure you into phishing traps, asking that you verify a password and other credentials. Such tricks could lead to the theft of assets and possibly your identity.

Use the same password for all of your accounts - This is something you never want to do. If one account is compromised, it's likely that the others are next. Make sure the passwords are unique for each account and login. It takes a few minutes every couple of months to protect a life's worth of data.

Furthermore, you can protect your passwords by frequently changing them. This is a solid precautionary measure just in case someone happens to find them or the hackers become more advanced.


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