Experts say that most people remember passwords when they associate them with something they do often. So if Jersey Shore is one of your shows, then Snooki, with some numbers and symbols added, may be your gal.
Creating strong passwords is key to protecting personal information. But this can be a challenge given the many websites and devices that need our protection. Think of all the places where we store sensitive information online: on websites tied to banking, financial planning, health insurance, social networks, email, and online shopping. Then there are files we keep on work and home computers, smartphones and iPads.
Many of us keep track of a lot of passwords, sometimes as many as 10 or more. How do you make sure each password is strong? How do you remember them all? Whatever you do, don’t use the same password for all your accounts and devices. It sounds basic, but you’d be surprised at how many folks latch on to a favourite password, and then use it for everything.
To avoid being an easy target, follow these tips:
- Use different passwords for work and personal email accounts, bank accounts and online retailers. That way if a hacker cracks one password, he won’t have access to others.
- Create strong passwords for debit cards, credit cards, online retailers and personal email accounts. The passwords should have numbers, upper- and lower-case letters and symbols. For example, “3Dogz$$!” is better than “1006.”
- Never use for a password the last four digits of your Social Security number, your maiden name, date of birth, middle name, child’s name, pet’s name or anything else easily discovered or guessed.
- Change passwords regularly. Every 90 days is ideal. The older the password, the higher your risk.
- Never keep and rotate a stable of passwords. Again, you’d just be giving identity thieves a hand in getting to your personal information.
- Change passwords that come with new bank cards. It’s easy to forget to change these generic passwords. Make time to create a new one as soon as you authorise your new card.
- Consider using a password manager to keep track of all your passwords. Avoid storing them on paper, email or electronic files. There are plenty of free services available. Internet Explorer and Firefox offer options. Other services include:
• KeyChain (for Mac users)
Sure, all this effort may seem like a hassle, but it’s worth it. You’ll spend less time dealing with an identity theft problem and more time watching your favourite fist-pumping reality stars.
Matt Cullina, Chief Executive Officer, Identity Theft 911 Matt has 15 years of insurance industry management, claims and product development experience. He spearheaded MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Co.’s personal product development initiatives, managed complex claims litigation and served as a corporate witness for travellers Insurance and the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. Image: NVC_Inc, via Flickr
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