We are bringing this tip out of the archives because remembering passwords and having strong passwords is more important than ever with increased identity theft and the increased amount of business we conduct over the web.
I have accumulated nearly ninety user names and passwords for various email services, web sites, banking sites, etc. Without my password tracking software, I wouldn’t be able to remember them all or, I would be using the same user name and password for every instance (an extremely dangerous practice). You can use software solutions to securely save passwords on your computer or smart phone. For your computer, I recommend these packages for securely keeping track of your passwords (works much better than the sticky note method):
- Password Keychain (free)
- Password Manager (shareware)
- Password Safe (shareware)
- Access Manager (free)
If you use a smart phone, my favorite application is Splash ID. The folks at Splash Data have been making and improving this software for more than 10 years. It is currently available for a Mac or Windows computer, Palm handhelds, Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile phones, and more.
You don’t even have to high tech about it either. You can get some 3X5 cards and a recipe box or a small notebook and track your username and passwords with it. The key is to use something, and keep it up.
If you have trouble thinking of good passwords, some of the programs listed above also double as password generators. Keep these rules in mind when creating passwords:
- Avoid real words, names, or dates that mean something in your life (birthdays, anniversaries, etc)
- Make passwords harder to guess by adding punctuation or numbers as in brain*scan or gue55thi5pa55word.
- Combine the first letters of a common phrase to make your password. For example, you might take the phrase “If elected I promise to lower taxes for all” and turn it into the password “ieip2ltfa”.
- Change your passwords regularly. That doesn’t mean once a year whether you’ve been attacked or not; it means changing passwords as often as every month for financial sites, or every 3-4 months at a minimum. It’s not as convenient, but convenience and security don’t always go together.