Hey there! It’s me, someone else, with a few more password security details for you! As a follow up to last week’s post, Staying Safe: The Password Security Challenge, I thought I’d pop in and give you a few additional tips on how to stay safe on the web.
There are two things I want to cover in this little addendum. The first additional thing I think is important to note about password security: Do not, and I repeat, do not use the same password across multiple services. Sure, I doubt a huge company like Google or Facebook is going to risk their credibility trying to hack into your bank account (Google knows all your financial details already anyway), but if you enter your trusty secure password to “Some Kind of Free Service.com!” to download a YouTube video or avoid paying 99 cents for a song some other way, you can bet they’re going to try that e-mail and password combination on every available bank, e-mail service, and social media site. Best case scenario is your friends will all notice you’ve become a dubious product shilling robot on Twitter. Worst case scenario is you lose all your worldly possessions. In addition to the robot thing, I suppose.
An easy thing to do is to abbreviate the name of the service at some point in your password – like “amz” for Amazon or “fac” for Facebook. That way, you can still remember your one password, but not have to worry about it getting re-used, as “FREE SMILEYS” frustratingly tries the password ending in “smi” everywhere and finds it does not work.
The second thing I wanted to address – there’s more than one way to make a password really secure. You don’t have to load it up with symbols and numbers to make it difficult to guess. That makes it hard to remember and type – trying to find just the right combination of l33t speak and extraneous text decoration can prove troublesome. But what’s your alternative?
Make it simple, easy to remember and type… but really long. Here, let’s check How Secure is my Password? for verification:
“chewbacca” lasts you about 6 hours.
“$Ch3wb4cc4$“, will last you 71 thousand years.
“chewbacca is from the movie star wars” will last you “About 1 quattuordecillion years”. Is that a number? I’m pretty sure that’s a number. It’s certainly a bigger number than I’ve ever heard of. That, and it’s super easy to remember and type – it probably takes about the same amount of time to type this sentence as it does to dance your keys around the keyboard, typing it five times because you forgot that the “C” was capitalized, or whether you replaced the “b” with an “8” or not.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of websites that require you to have a lowercase letter, a capital letter, a symbol, and a number in your password. You can still work with that: “There are 4 lights!” fits all these requirements, and lasts you “About 5 sextillion years”, which is still a reasonably long time.
Armed with the previous post and this one, you should have an impenetrable defense against would-be password hackers. Stay tuned for “Staying Safe III: The Search for Curly’s Gold” whenever someone decides to make an unsolicited sequel to this post!