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Member Appreciation Month: Managing Your Passwords

Our final challenge this week is to uncover some best practices for creating better passwords and learn how to properly store them.

'The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.' –Aristotle

Faster hardware and new tech used by password crackers have made passwords less secure than in years past. Your best bet for creating a password that is more difficult for online predators to crack is to employ multiple methods. Our favorites are outlined below. Alone, each is better than doing nothing, but together our 1-2-3-punch makes for a stronger deterrent.

Randomizing. By definition, to randomize is to make unpredictable. Humans are notorious for creating predictable passwords. If you Google 'random password,' a number of online random password generators will turn up in your results. Great, right? Wrong. According to our IT guru Tim, 'If it's online, it's not recommended. Sacrifice convenience for security.' Your results and IP address can potentially be discovered by the wrong people. With that in mind, go old school. Find a favorite book or pick up a dictionary, close your eyes, point to a know the drill. In fact, you'll want to do that a few times because our next tip is to use...

Phrases/Multiple Words. Another best practice is to use a string of words instead of a single word. Here, more is better; use as many words/characters as you are comfortable using, and again, try to randomize and make sure they have no relationship to one another.

E.g., boundfactorsleetforesight

Mix It Up — Mixed Case, Characters, Numbers, and Leetspeak. This last tip is where your creativity comes into play. Take the random phrase/words you've come up with and start adding special characters, mixed case, and numbers.

E.g., boundfactorsleetforesight becomes 85boUnD&faCTOR%slEEt)foREsiGHt972

Now, if you want to take it one step further, you can add leetspeak. Leetspeak is an alternative alphabet primarily used on the internet. It uses some characters to replace others in ways that play on the similarity of their glyphs via reflection or other resemblance.

E.g., 85boUnD&faCTOR%slEEt)foREsiGHt972 becomes 8590UnD&f4CTOR%$1337)4$iGH7972

Storing Your Passwords. So you've created a password that's got some level of difficulty to it, now how do you remember it? And the other umpteen passwords that you've created for other accounts and sites? Here are two options:

  • Store all your passwords on a password manager like Lastpass, a cross-platform award-winning password manager that saves your passwords and gives you secure access from every computer and mobile device. The downside to using this type of service, though, is that it is still vulnerable to being hacked.
  • For an extra secure offline option you can do what our IT guy Tim does and create an encrypted Excel file and store your passwords there. Or go really old school and write them down in a notebook that you keep in a secure area of your home.

A Few Last Thoughts. We've touched on some ideas of how to develop as stronger password...let's look at a few things to make sure NOT to do as well.

  • Don't use the same password for everything, or variations of the same password. If a hacker cracks one, they're all vulnerable.
  • Don't use any of the most popular passwords out there. Also, be aware that adding a number (especially '1' or '2') and a symbol to the end of your password is also very common and hackers have created algorithms for that as well.
  • Don't use meaningful dates or names of family members (that includes your pets).

That wraps up our D4S Tech Week. We'll be back in touch on Monday for the start of our Office Wellness Week!

Posted on May 19, 2017 by Sara Anderson
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