VIA Idea #34

8 Sep

Choose passwords wisely and consider password software

Many (most?) of us select the same password on all our accounts because it’s easier to remember, but that’s not wise, especially if you’re also guilty of using one that’s easily guessed by third-graders and Russian hackers. According to Splashdata, the five worst passwords in 2013 were:

• 123456

• password

• 12345678

• qwerty

• abc123

A simple way to make your passwords more secure is to make them longer. Most sites require passwords that are at least eight characters long; some require a combination of letters, numbers and printable characters. By using all the printable characters and increasing the password length, possible combinations increase exponentially:

8 characters = more than 645 trillion (645,753,531,245,761)
9 characters = more than 45 quadrillion (45,848,500,718,449,031)
10 characters = more than 3 quintillion (3,255,243,551,009,881,201)


While doing the research to write this article, I found all kinds of advice on how to make your passwords difficult to hack. Those lists include:

• Choosing a combination of two unrelated words (rootcandy)

• Creating an acronym of an easy to remember phrase (I want it all and I want it now= iwiaaiwin)

• Mixing the letter case (IwiaaIwin)

• Replacing a letter of a word or phrase with a different letter, number or symbol (Iwantitall+Iwantitnow)

• Adding one or more special symbols (iwitaaiwin!!!)

While these tricks might work if you have only one or two passwords to manage, how can you possibly remember which clever password goes with each credit card, bank account, online magazine subscription, LinkedIn, email, and dozens of other accounts? If you only access those accounts from your home computer, you aren’t as vulnerable as if you use your work computer, home computer, smart phone, and tablet.

Subscribing to password management software is a solution that’s been around for a while but is becoming more popular as major security breaches are made public. A friend of mine swears by RoboForm; it also got high marks in a recent article on the website Top Ten Reviews. This article rates features, security, supported accounts and help and support. Prices for annual subscriptions range from $9.99 to $29.99.

My advice, in a nutshell, is to do your homework and choose the password management software that best fits your needs. Then email to let me know which option you chose and how it’s working for you.

Contact Julie to discuss assessing the effectiveness of your website’s user experience and in thinking through how to make improvements.

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