It seems like we hear about a password breach or successful hack against a top-level business every week now.
Whether you blog, use online banking, have a frequent flier account, or have a Creative Cloud membership, chances are you’ve felt the fear factor of the potential exposure of your personal information. While there isn’t a whole lot we can do about the security of the companies we use (and they pay a lot of money to be as secure as they possibly can be), we do have control over how secure OUR account log-ins are. Target, URM Stores, Adobe, banks, British Airways, insurance companies- no one is immune to this.
What do you know about password security?
It shouldn’t surprise you to know that most people have around 6 passwords that they use on a regular basis. And 6 is a lot for most people. I know. My husband and I had two for over ten years. Just two. We used them for everything from email to online banking to our Best Buy points account.
It wasn’t until about 7 years ago when I chanced to misplace my tablet.
It wasn’t LOST-lost, but I was very concerned for about 12 hours. I had left it in the bathroom at an event because I had changed into my scrubs so I could leave from there to work a night shift. I was about 3 hours into my shift when I realized I had left my tablet on the counter in the bathroom, on a Saturday night. A quick online check with “Where’s my Droid?” showed me the tablet was still at the event center.
I showed up there at 7:30 am after I got off work, and thankfully discovered that someone had found it and handed it to a staff member, who locked it in a filing cabinet for the night.
Later that day, I changed every single password we had.
How, you ask? A few months earlier I had begun using a service called LastPass. It’s free for online use, but for $36 a year, you can use the app on all of your mobile devices too. The name comes from their motto, “The last password you’ll ever need.”
Once logged into LastPass, it will secure all of the passwords that you have saved in your browsers. It will check for duplicates, which you know we all have, and it will suggest changes to make them secure.
A secure password isn’t…
- Your pet’s name
- Your child’s birthday
- Your first car
- Your mother’s maiden name
- Your middle name
- Your elementary school name
These are all security questions that many sites and businesses use to verify who you are and should NEVER be used as your password. And some of those are pretty easy to guess, too.
A secure password is a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Secure passwords are complicated, and NOT “easy to remember”.
The days of choosing passwords that are easy to recall are over, friends.
Let me illustrate this with one more story. My father passed away three and a half years ago. He left a little pocket notebook with all of his passwords, many of which had part of the password starred out ( *** ), leaving me to guess what they were. It was tedious! But one password that he HAD given me before was the one for his email.
I logged into his email, changed that password to something more secure than his “FrankDog1” password, and then proceeded to go through all the other accounts individually. I put in password reset requests for his retirement accounts, online medical records, Netflix, eBay, Amazon, etc. By having access to his email I gained access to EVERYTHING ELSE in my father’s life. This was needed, of course, but it also showed me how easy it would be for a predator to hijack a person’s life. MUCH too easy.
If you’re a blogger or online service provider, the need for secure passwords is multiplied by every single account you use online. Your hosting, your blog, affiliate accounts, social media accounts, YouTube, bank, Paypal, CashApp, Square, WordPress, and accessories such as Adobe Cloud, Rafflecopter, and Canva are all doorways to your personal and financial information.
LastPass isn’t the only password manager. There are many others with various features and advantages as well such as Dashlane, 1Password, and BitWarden. I’m not saying you need LastPass. I am saying that you need something that will manage your passwords and help you create strong ones to prevent password guessers from breaking in.