People often ask how to protect their assets when they die, but they are rarely thinking about their digital assets. Recent invasions of supposedly secure companies have resulted in a rash of internet fraud on credit card accounts. The following are some tips on how to create (and remember) secure passwords to help avoid being the victim of these data hacks!
As you may have seen in the headlines recently, an unknown group of Russian hackers has compromised the security of more than 420,000 websites and has collected more than 1.2 billion unique records of people’s usernames and passwords. That number is 17 times larger than the Target breach last fall which covered 70 million records.
In our judgment, we are all at serious risk.
Immediately reset passwords on your email, financial, e-commerce accounts (Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, etc.), and any other accounts that would give hackers insights into your life, such as social media accounts, etc.
New Password Concepts
People are often dangerously lazy about their passwords. We’ve got to be better in this area. Here are two approaches we’re recommending you consider:
Use a mnemonic device to create your password.
1.Pick a phrase you’re fond of and can easily recall such as a prayer, poem, pledge, song, or quote.
2. Start your new password by taking the first letter of each word of your phrase. So, the phrase “The harder you work, the luckier you get” becomes: thywtlyg.
3. Now swap some letters and punctuation with some symbols and two upper case letters: Thyw@Tlyg.
4. Then supercharge it by bracketing the phrase with a meaningful number in your life that is not your birthday or Social Security number. So the date April 13, 2003 is added this way and then you get: 04Thyw@Tlyg2003 as the very strong password.
The numbers, uppercases, and symbols elevate the strength of the password.
Turn your password into a goal setting mantra.
Pick a goal you want to achieve. Remember, it could be anything: lose weight, eat better, find a new job, save for a new purchase—anything. For example, if you want to start running every day, you’d start with this goal: I will run every day.
1. Turn your goal into one word: “iwillruneveryday.”
2. Now add an uppercase letter and swap out the letters E and A with the number 3 and the symbol @. It becomes: “Iwillrun3v3ryd@y”
3. Make it even stronger by inserting a meaningful number that is not your Social or birth date.
Now, every time you type your password you are reminded of an important goal you are seeking. Instead of your password being a cognitive drain on your brain, you’ll actually be reinforcing something meaningful.
Use this table to help turn your "goal phrase" into a stronger password. By replacing words or letters with special characters and numbers, you are making your password more secure. Try some of these suggestions:
Change this... To this.
To, Too, Two 2
I 1 or !
A 4 or @
Example phrases made into passwords
Run everyday Run3v3ryd@y
Eat more fruit 3@t>fru1t
Sleep at 11 $l33p@11pm
Bring own lunch Br!ng0wnlunch!
No more soda N0m0r3s0d@
Save for house $@v34h0u$3
Get outside G3t@0ut$!d3
A couple more tips:
Keep it unique
It’s also recommended that you have unique passwords for each website. So use the above approaches and then add a simple pre-fix or suffix that is keyed to the website’s name.
No doubt people will ask you about password managers. They may be helpful for some people. They can be difficult to set up across your various devices and there are various associated costs. But once that is done, they can be helpful. Like all websites, the password manager sites will be targeted by hackers.
Regardless, everyone still is faced with creating passwords. What we’ve offered here should help you move away from dangerously weak passwords.