All About Passwords
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Creating Unique Passwords, Keeping Them Secure and Finding Lost Passwords
Why Are Passwords Required?
While you might consider them a pain to use, could you imagine if your Internet service provider didn't require them? If they didn't, anyone could log on to the Internet using your user-name. While that doesn't seem too dangerous at first thought, it could lead to you being blamed for something you didn't do, such as breaking user agreements and even doing something illegal. Certain Websites also require user names and passwords for services such as email and forums. If they didn't, then anyone could read your mail or assume your identity.
Problem With Creating Easy To Remember Passwords
The passwords that you create should be something that no one could ever guess. Because you have to remember your password, the temptation to make passwords easy to remember often leads to trouble. Creating passwords that contain your name or nickname, your dog's name or something that is commonly known are too easy for someone else to guess. Some people think that other people would never guess an easy password but you would be surprised how easy it is. I remember one time a co-worker was bragging that no one would be able to guess her password. It only took me two guesses - it was her dog's name. I knew her enough that, I knew it had to be her daughter's name or her dog's name because she talked about them so often.
General Rules For Creating Passwords
When passwords are required there may be different rules for each application. Generally passwords are:
- Case Sensitive - This means that the upper-case letter a (A) is not the same as the lower-case letter a (a).
- No Spaces Allowed - Most applications do not allow blank spaces in the word.
- Special Characters - Characters such as a tilde (~) may or may not be allowed. You will need to check the rules.
- Length - Most applications will tell you a minimum and maximum length of the password. Although you may be allowed to create a password that is four characters long, for security reasons it is recommended that the minimum length be eight characters.
Creating Passwords That Won't Be Easily Cracked
Here are some general guidelines to create a password:
- Should be more than seven characters long
- Mix letters and numerals
- Use upper-case and lower-case letters
- Do not create a password that contains a single word that is in the dictionary
- Use phrases
Making Hard-to-Crack Passwords Easy To Remember
- Make passwords like the vanity plates on cars. For example: passwordsREZ (passwords are easy)
- Create a pattern when you create your passwords such as using upper-case letters for vowels and lower-case for consonants, so it would be easy to remember but hard to crack. The word "candy" would then be "cAndy". Or you could substitute letters for numbers. For example 1=I, 5=S, 0=O. Some people do not recommend creating these patterns but it will make it easy for you to remember. Remember though, that if you use a pattern and then someone finds out your password, you should then change your pattern for your new password.
- Use a phrase instead of a single word to make it a more secure password, such as "candy for you" which would be "cAndy4U".
Keeping Your Passwords Secure
- NEVER give out your passwords to anyone, including representatives from companies that call you. The only time you will have to give them a password is when you initially create a password or when you want to change it.
- Instruct your children to NEVER give out passwords and continue to remind them to do so. Children have a hard time keeping a secret, in fact, one time my daughter shared ours because it was such a neat combination! Also, one of my friend's children gave out their ISP user name and password to their friends so they could get Internet access. My friend was double-billed by her ISP for services because two computers were logged in at the same time.
- Do not keep a list of passwords on your desk, in a file on your computer or taped under your keyboard. There are however, some shareware programs that you can get that will store passwords for you but they use encryption technology so they can't be accessed.
- If you think someone might know your password, have your password changed.
- Change you passwords periodically. Some people recommend every six months.
- If someone is sitting near you when you have to enter a password, be sure to cover your fingers while typing it.
What To Do If You Forget A Password
Nothing can be more frustrating than forgetting a password! Here are some tips for what to do if you have forgotten a password.
- At Websites look for a link that says, "password reminder".
- Sign up for a new account at the Website if you can't access it.
- Contact their support department. Often they can reset your password.
- If you have forgotten your password for your ISP, contact their support department.
- Download a password recovery program. To get one, go to ZDNet and then search for "recover lost password" in PC Downloads.
Use Several Passwords
You should not use the same password for everything. You should have a different password for banking, a different password for web sites, etc. I know this gets confusing but one strategy to is to use a set of three passwords. At least this way you can try each one and get the correct one.
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