The Keys to the Castle ~ Strong Password Management
Article summary: In today’s online environment your password literally is the key to protecting your vital information. Failure to utilize strong passwords or to protect them is like leaving your front door open for a thief to walk into your home and destroy your life. The smart user will always implement a strong password management policy.
In today’s online environment your password literally is the key to protecting your vital information. In essence the keys to your castle, if you implore a strong password management policy in both your professional and personal life while navigating online your chances of having sensitive information compromised is significantly reduced.
I know the first thing that comes to mind when you see please create a password for this account is oh man not another password to remember. This is a pretty typical reaction that we should try to program out of our general thinking because it puts a negative spin on having to create passwords, which in turn makes a good portion of us just try and create a password that follows the rules to get done with it. So we can get on with whatever it was that we were trying to do such as pay a bill, watch a movie, or do some training.
When we do this we have left the door to our castle partially open and are inviting Identity Thieves, Computer Hackers, and other Internet Criminals to come in and to have a look around at all of our information. Your first line of defense is common sense; your second line of defense is a strong password. Yes reread that last line I know it might be contrary to everything you have heard before about password management, but common sense plays a huge part in keeping you safe online. The very first question that you should ask yourself when you are being asked to create a password for a site is do I really need to access, or join this site. The second thing that you should be asking yourself is how this site is going to use my information. It's important to find out what happens to the personal information you provide to companies, marketers, and government agencies. These organizations may use your information simply to process your order; they may use it to tell you about products, services, or promotions; or they may share your information with others. More organizations are offering people choices about how their personal information is used. For example, many let you "opt-out" of having your information shared with others or used for promotional purposes.
If the site passes the common sense test of yes I need to access this information, then it is time to create a strong password. Again common sense should immediately kick in and you should avoid the temptation to use a password that can be easily guessed, you should definitely avoid using any word that can be found in any dictionary. Yes this even means Yiddish and Klingon. There are very sophisticated programs created for passwords cracking that are based on all the known dictionaries. In addition you should not use any part of your name, initials, dates of birth or other common information that could be gleaned from the internet. If someone was to search the internet and find out that you have 3 kids and that their names are Bob, Sally, and Pam as an example and then they were able to find you on Facebook as an example and your daughter that Pam just had a birthday it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that one of your passwords might be “12Pam1965”.
Strong Password Management
There are numerous ways to create a secure password and some systems do not allow you to always use all of these techniques but you should try to employ as many as possible whenever you can.
- A good password will be at least 8 Character long
- Use both upper and lower-case letters
- Numbers, Punctuation Marks and Symbols
- Never ever write it down
- It should be virtually impossible for anyone to guess your password
Failure to protect your password or to exercise the common sense test could leave the keys to your castle out exposing you to identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The average cost to an Identity Theft Victim, amounts to approximately $5000. The out of pocket cost to resolve Indentify theft damage $1000- $1500 and sometimes your reputation cannot be fixed.
Think that’s bad according to a study released by Symantec Corporation Norton division the cost of cybercrime was approximately 400 billion globally based on financial and time losses. Taking this into consideration the time it takes to change a password every 45 to 90 days or create a secure password is nothing. It’s merely closing the door to the castle to keep the riff raff out!