It has been 38 minutes since your last password update, please reset now!
This is by far the most dreadful message anyone could have while signing in, opening a new app, visiting a new site, ordering a pizza? You almost need a password for everything you do internet related. It’s annoying, we get it. Additionally, to add insult to injury, they make you change it at what seems like the most inconvenient times. So, if you’re like me (rather the old me) you use the same password for everything with a slight variation right? Well you’re doing wrong.
Passwords, especially several of them, are hard to remember. They’re supposed to be. I have 23 (and I’m sure I’m forgetting some), how many do you have? Yikes! Stay on top of your password game and avoid this mess all together.
Here’s the fix:
Implement a system. Take 30 minutes, define a system, put it in to action and remember to use it for every new password.
- Keep a document of all the sites you have passwords for. (don’t store the actual passwords)
- Within this document categorize your websites with related topics like emails, online stores (Amazon, Target), social media, newsletters, food sites etc. Within each category you’ll probably have several sites.
- Next decide a topic for each category i.e. Social media= favorite band, let’s say the Beatles. Online stores = favorite type of coffee, let’s use Kona.
- Now decide on a memorable instance, date or event? For example high school graduation in June 2004. But you could’ve picked first dog, last haircut, or favorite vacation. The possibilities are endless.
- Decide on a regular interval like every 3 months to go in a change the memorable instance or date or hint. Set reminders and make it a habit.
Now if I were to incorporate all of these methods together and I wanted to create a password, I could use something like one of these:
Facebook- f@ce6/04be@t [f@ce(facebook)+date+beat(beatles)]
Twitter- twit6/04be@t [twit (twitter)+date+beat(beatles)]
Target- T@rgjune04kOn@ [T@rg(target)+date+kona]
Amazon- Am@zjune04kOn@ [Amaz(amazon)+date+kona]
Note: keep things consistent. “@” for a’s, first four of site name, abbreviations, date format etc. whatever your system.
OK so you may be saying, this is confusing, too much work, I have to consult with my pet rock, blah blah blah. Whatever your excuse, it’s not good enough. You may think that creating such a complicated system is too much, overkill. Let’s remember what’s at stake here, check this out:
You went to joelovesgoldfish.com because you wanted to read his opinion on goldfish. Half way through this need-to-know information a pop-up says, “Click here to sign-up and continue reading”. You’re already hooked so you HAVE to sign up. You use your email and one of maybe 3 basic password combos in your arsenal. A week later you log in to find your bank account drained. What happen? You used the same email for joelovesgoldfish.com, and Facebook. Joe’s website was compromised and now your email is public. A little search of your email brings up your Facebook profile. Your last post talked about how horrible the customer service was for your bank. You also post about your adorable dog Duke constantly. Now a hacker has you’re your email, knows where you bank and can probably guess, or get close to your password- “Iloveduke” or “Duke0719” (remember when you posted about his birthday yesterday?)
Maybe this is a bit of a stretch but it has totally happened this way before and it will absolutely happen again. You shouldn’t write down your passwords, keep them in your phone or any other type of document, or even use a password keeping app or website (they have been hacked too!) Come up with a system, your own system, and put it into effect. If you’re questioning rather or not your password is strong enough, visit Microsoft’s password check here http://ht.ly/PRyx6. Stay secure!