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Securing Your World With A Word

Do you like who you are? Would you be ok with someone else being you? I sure wouldn’t. I have put a lot of time, work, pictures and videos together on my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, About.Me, FourSquare and SCVNGR accounts and I wouldn’t want someone else to ruin them or claim them as their own.

For a lot of people, including me, these things are major life-lines. They are your connection to your family, friends, online audience, future employers, customers or even your next blind date. Nobody needs these things broken into and taken from them. That’s what passwords are for.

Passwords are either the best or worst way of securing your information, it all depends on how you use them. I’ll let you in on a couple of tips to easily secure your password and make it work for you in the best possible ways.

123456, password, qwerty, letmein, monkey. Those are a couple of the most common and most used passwords. If you use one of these, stop reading, go to your computer and change your password. Right now. My first tip is to not use an easy password. When you use an easy to guess password, it’s like not using one at all. You would probably have more luck asking people to please not steal your account and your identity, you worked really hard putting all of those awesome backgrounds and sound effects on your MySpace page and you just couldn’t bear to lose it all.

When trying to put together a good password, always use letters and numbers. You can even throw in some special characters if you want, it will only make your password better. Using ‘password1’ is better than just ‘password’ but not by much. A password like pas$w0rd486 is a much more secure password and will help keep your information safe.

Another great tip for making a good password is to pick a phrase. Easily guessed and cracked passwords tend to be dictionary words. Phrases are not in the dictionary. Use something like ‘MyBirthdayIsThe12thOfAugust’ instead of ‘81287’ or ‘MyPa$$wordWillNeverBeGue$$ed’ instead of ‘password’. These passwords won’t be in the dictionary and will be much harder to guess or figure out with a simple dictionary attack.

The next suggestion is one of the easiest and most obvious but also one of the most over looked. Don’t ever write down or tell anyone your password. Your password doesn’t do you any good if you hand it to the wrong person on a sticky note. Written down passwords are also really easy to find. Under your keyboard, under the mouse pad, in the rolodex, the inside of the top drawer or even right on your monitor, they’re never hard to find.

If you tell someone your password, it becomes really easy for them to tell someone else or use it themselves. Don’t tell it to your significant other. If the relationship ends, bad things can happen. Don’t tell your best friend, that person may think it’s ok to tell other people, all of a sudden, everyone knows it. Don’t tell anyone who claims they need it in an email or over the phone either. You should never have to give our your password to anyone, even the IT department at your business. If you do tell your account password to the people in charge of the computers, change it as soon as they are done using it.

This brings me right into the next tip. Change your password and change it often. The more often you change your password the less time someone else has to figure it out and use the password if they do figure it out. Most of the time changing your password every other month or so should do the trick. If you ever suspect that someone may have your password though, you should be changing it as soon as possible. It doesn’t cost anything and it doesn’t take more than a couple minutes to change a password. To keep your online accounts safe, it is always worth the time.

Another way to limit the stealing of your passwords and the hijacking of your accounts is to use your own computer on your own internet. Limit the use of public computers like those at libraries and coffee shops and try not to use open and free Wi-Fi hotspots around town. When you do have to use public computers or Wi-Fi, don’t access important things like online banking and always use anti-virus software or a browser add-on such as HTTPS Everywhere. These things will help prevent key-loggers and other malicious tools that steal your information.

Your password can be the biggest thing between your information and the wrong person. It could also be a small road bump on the path to ruining your online image. Hopefully with these tips you can put up a reinforced concrete wall to protect your identity and you never have to worry about your information being compromised again.

Do you have any good password tips? Leave them in the comments section.

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