Back to the Basics for Password Management

As we get more accustomed to living in a digital world, cyber security becomes more important. What you may not know is that the number one cause of data breaches is, well, you. More specifically, human error. For this reason, it’s important to review the basics of good password management.

Password Don’ts

1. Don’t go easy

Sure, it’s easy to use your birthday, last name, children’s names, pet’s names, and the ever-popular oldies but goodies like “123456” or “password”. Think about what personal information is already out in the digital world. Social media profiles and posts contain all of this information. Don’t select something that someone else can easily guess based on your digital footprint.

2. Don’t keep using the same password over, and over and over. 

It is important to use different passwords for each website you visit or application you use. All it takes is guessing it correctly for one site and hackers now have the keys to your kingdom so to speak.

3. Don’t leave your passwords on sticky notes

With so many passwords to remember, it can be very tempting to write them down and have them easily accessible to you and anyone else who would like them. It’s also possible that you can be taking a selfie or someone snaps a photo of you in your office and don’t even realize that your passwords have been captured in the photo. True story- everyone recalls the now-infamous Hawaii Ballistic Missile alert that was erroneously sent to the residents of Hawaii back in Jan 2018. One thing you may not have heard about that situation is that a few months prior to the ‘mistake’, there was a photo taken of the employee and his workstation for a news article. In that photo, even the untrained eye can see a password- on a sticky note-on the monitor. Want to see for yourself- read more here.

Password Do’s

1. Do Use a Password Manager

We get it. Trying to remember complicated passwords and so many of them is just not feasible. The good news is that most computers and web browsers come with a built-in password manager. However, if a free application won’t cut it, or you have access to highly sensitive data, you can upgrade to a paid manager. If you are not sure which one is right for you, Cnet published an article on the best password managers of 2019.

2. Do Create Difficult Passwords

Create passwords that are difficult for others to come up with, but easy for you to remember.  One simple way to do this is to use a simple phrase to create your password. For example:

Phrase Password
May the force be with you! Mt4orcebwu!
Who ate all the cookies? W8a!!tc?
This little piggy went to market Tlpwnt2mkt
I was five when I first went to Disney World !waz5wI1stwnt2DW

3. Do add numbers or symbols in place of letters

Consider using an unexpected character that only you would know. Notice the passwords above using a “1” or “!” instead of an “I”, or “5” instead of “f”. Using numbers and symbols in place of letters will make your password more secure as well as more memorable at the same time.