The number of passwords we need to keep track of these days seems to be proliferating. As we become increasingly enmeshed in the web it is important to take some steps to protect your privacy and security by managing your passwords. Like many things that are important (think flossing), it takes an ongoing effort to manage your passwords, but it is well worth it. Below are six quick tips to consider:
- Do not use personal information. You should never use personal information as a part of your password. It is very easy for someone to guess things like your last name, pet’s name, child’s birth date and other similar details.
- Do not use real words. There are tools available to help attackers guess your password. With today’s computing power, it doesn’t take long to try every word in the dictionary and find your password, so it is best if you do not use real words for your password.
- Mix different character types. You can make a password much more secure by mixing different types of characters. Use some uppercase letters along with lowercase letters, numbers and even special characters such as ‘&’ or ‘%’. Your PSU password must contain at least one upper case letter and one number.
- Use a passphrase. Rather than trying to remember a password created using various character types, which is also not a word from the dictionary, you can use a passphrase. Think up a sentence or a line from a song or poem that you like and create a password using the first letter from each word.
- Use different passwords. You should use a different username and password for each login or application you are trying to protect. That way if one gets compromised the others are still safe. For example, one password for your PSU access, a different username and password for a personal email account, and a third set of credentials for online shopping. Sites that require higher levels of security, like online banking and bill paying should each have their own unique set of credentials.
- Change your passwords. You should change your passwords on a regular basis, at least every 6 months. You should also not re-use a password for at least 24 months.
Password security is the single most important step you can take to secure your online information. Do not share your password with anyone and do not leave it lying around on sticky notes or in desk drawers where others might find it. This one principal alone can improve security dramatically!