Usernames and passwords are your security system

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have trouble remembering my eight-letter passwords. Actually, it’s not the passwords themselves that are tough to remember, but which password goes with which email account.

As you know, it’s important to keep your passwords different for each account because if somebody hacks into one of your accounts and figures out your password, they’ll use that same password to try to hack into your other accounts.

Well, now I’m hearing that hacking accounts is becoming much more sophisticated. In fact, some scumbags are actually using computers to help them do it. So, each of our passwords should be much longer than they typical eight characters. And, they should be “stronger.”

My first thought was, “Seriously? I really need passwords that have 20 or more characters?” But after reading about the issue and thinking more about it, I realized two things. One, it makes a lot of sense. And two, it’s not as challenging as you’d think.

First of all, for your username, don’t use your name or email address like most people do. After all, your username is part of your personal security system, so make it secure. Make up something unique that no one would ever guess.

A couple of examples are “BoaConstrictor” and “SocketWrench.” Either of those, as well as a ton of others you could come up with, would be almost impossible to guess. (Unless, of course, Boa Constrictor was your nickname.)

If you were to change your password from eight characters to 20 or more characters – including upper and lowercase letters and a nice variety of symbols – it might take someone many years to figure out what it is. If someone was using a computer to try to figure out your password, the computer would use every combination, including symbols, so the most important thing is the length of your password, not which letters and symbols you use.

How could anyone remember a password with 20 or more characters? Well, it’s not that tough. Let’s say the three places you go to the most often are the bank, the grocery store and the doctor’s office. Your password could be something like Bank!!Grocery!!Doctor!!. That’s 23 characters, and I’m guessing nobody uses it as a password. And despite how long it is, it’s easier to remember than an eight-character password like @jR%*vCx.

Have you ever had one of your email accounts hacked? Best-case scenario it’s embarrassing as you tell all the people on your contact list that the email they got from you was not really from you. Worst-case scenario is you can have your personal information stolen.

So, toughen up your passwords. You’ll be glad you did.


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