Passwords – a balance between security and ease of use

passwordsAs you may already know, a Russian gang stole 1.2 billion passwords. This is a great time to change your passwords.

Theresa Chavez, Computer Support for University of Wyoming Extension, offered some great tips for managing your passwords:

  1. Create passwords that are 10 characters or longer and include uppercase letters, lowercase letters, symbols and numbers.
  2. Create a unique password for each account.
  3. Do not use the same password for money accounts and social media accounts.
  4. Don’t store your passwords in an unsecured document on your computer.
  5. Don’t share your password.
  6. Change your password regularly.

I would like to offer some other tips to help manage your passwords.

Creating Unique Passwords

As Theresa noted, passwords should be unique and 10 characters or longer including uppercase letters, lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Trying to manage this type of password can be challenge; however, Lifehacker offers a strategy. Basically, create a formula that you will use that includes a base password with a unique addition or autogenerate a password with a password management tool.

 Managing Passwords

Creating a unique secure password is one thing, keeping track of all your unique secure passwords is another thing.

When I worked in UW IT, we had a password book that was locked in a safe. Each time you needed to access a specific server or program, you had to reference the book. Until recently, I had a password book where I kept my passwords. This was effective for a one person operation but it was not easy to use for multiple persons such as at work. As a result, we moved to a password management program. I use KeePass for work, and I just move to LastPass for home.

One secure password accesses the program where you can store unique passwords for every program you use. Ensure you use a really secure password for your main password. My KeePass file is stored in the cloud so that it is always available to me.

Take time to change your passwords to something that is much more secure. It may save you a lot of heartburn in the future.

What strategies are you using to keep your information safe?