Password protection: How to pick them, remember them, and keep them safe
Most Americans maintain dozens of online accounts — each requiring a password that is strong, memorable, and unique. That’s a tall order. Here’s what you need to know to keep your accounts safe online.
Give serious thought to picking a password. Each password should be at least eight characters — preferably longer, to make it harder to crack. And make sure you mix it up. Use a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Want an example of a strong password? How about 1<3R&R, spa.10itjb? You’re probably saying, OK, but how the heck do you remember it? Believe it or not, this one’s easy. The foundation of this password is a famous song lyric by Joan Jett. It’s the sentence “I love rock and roll so put another dime in the jukebox baby,” with the following changes:
the numeral 1 replaces the word I.
a sideways heart (<3) replaces the word love.
an ampersand (&) is used in place of the word and.
the word dime is replaced by .10.
each remaining word is replaced by its first letter.
the Rs in rock and roll are capitalized.
You can take a similar approach, using a favorite lyric or quote, or just an easy-to-remember sentence, as the basis for your password.
One easy change gives you a multitude of passwords. You might be tempted to use this one strong and memorable password for all your accounts. Don’t. If an online thief decodes it, they’ll have access not just to one of your accounts, but to all of them. Instead, modify this password for each account.
For example, you could add the first three letters of a site’s name to the password — so your Amazon password could be AMA1<3R &R, spa.10itjb, your Facebook password could be FAC1<3R&R, spa.10itjb, and so on.
Leave the decision — and management — up to the experts. If you’d rather pick wildly different passwords for each of your accounts, you certainly can. In that case, you might need help managing them all. That’s where a password manager app comes in.
With this helpful app, you only need to remember one password — the one you use to access the app. The app “remembers” the rest for you. And if you don’t want the pressure of coming up with creative passwords, your manager will create them for you.
Popular password manager apps include Dashlane (dashlane.com), LastPass (lastpass.com), Sticky Password (stickypassword.com), RoboForm (roboform.com), and Keeper (keepersecurity.com). These apps are safe, secure, and easy. Never forget an online password again.
- FC&A Staff Writer