10 Things to Avoid to Keep Your Password Safe
Everybody’s password to access internet sites (or PIN or passphrase or whatever you use) is different, or else there wouldn’t be any reason to use them. That said, there are some common pitfalls that anybody with passwords should avoid, so let’s list the most common (and the most troublesome). Keep these scenarios in mind as you navigate the Internet, and don’t let yourself be an easy target!
Write your password on your keyboard
Anybody walking by your computer could get access at a glance if you write down your password on or under your keyboard. Step away for a quick second for some coffee, and that’s all it takes. That’s also all it takes for somebody to steal the computer altogether, but why make it easier for your thieves by giving them the password as well?
Use the same password over multiple sites
After a thief has access to your e-mail password, for example, that same password could get them access to a whole host of other sites, most of which are probably identified by the messages those sites send to your e-mail account. Using separate passwords for each site (or at least your most important sites, like banking and credit card accounts) helps maintain a better level of security for your information.
E-Mail somebody your password
If you do decide to share a password with someone you trust, don’t share it via e-mail. Not only does Netflix get really angry when you share your account, but you don’t know what could happen to the e-mail account of the person to whom you send the e-mail. Just because you do your best to ensure security on your accounts doesn’t mean everybody does.
Share your password with somebody you don’t know
If you wouldn’t trust someone with your wallet or your car, don’t trust her with your password. There’s no telling who’s on the other side of that e-mail account or phone number. Ask anybody who’s ever exchanged pleasantries over e-mail with a Nigerian prince asking for a little financial transaction.
Use common words in your password
Sure, ordinary words may be easy for you to remember, but they’re easy for everybody to guess as well. Thieves know them, and the tools they use to break into accounts try these words before anything else. Avoid using words in passwords entirely!
You should also avoid using common sequences of numbers, as well. Any variation on “!23456” is just too easy to guess. You could try to use all of the digits in pi, but that’s just too easy to guess as well. Who doesn’t know all of the digits in pi by heart?
Okay, but that’s still too many numbers to type out. Use something else.
Use your birth date in your password
Via social media or other resources, it’s easy for others to find out your date of birth. Again, why make theft easier? Avoid including any number that can easily be linked to you in your password. And don’t use your anniversary date, either — you’ll never remember it.
Use any identifying number as your password
Any number that people can easily associate with you doesn’t belong in your password. Phone numbers are too easy to link to your account, and leaving your Social Security number in a database (even a supposedly secure password database) is just too dangerous. Keep your personal numbers out of your password.
Use your child’s name in your password
Don’t include your child’s name in any password you create. This advice applies to any family member, really, but especially to children. Especially if you’re one of those people who uses your child’s photo as your Facebook profile photo. How easy is it for a thief to make that connection?
Note that, in this case, pets are most definitely considered family members. They are certainly worth a place in your heart, but not in your password.
Type your password on a device you don’t trust
You’ve probably developed a level of comfort with your home PC or smartphone. Your electronic devices are around you all the time, you’ve gotten to know them, and you can personally ensure that they’re safe because you’re the only one who uses them.
Still, you can pretty much guarantee the safety of your personal devices. You can’t guarantee that same level of safety at a computer offered at a hotel business center or a library or any other common computer. A good rule is that if you don’t have permissions to install software on the computer, you probably shouldn’t be typing important passwords on that computer, either.
Type your password when using the Internet on a network you don’t trust
Hey, look! That network advertised on the sign that says FREE WIFI at the airport or hotel surely has to be safe, right?
Please, stop right there.
If you’ve never been on the network before and it seems too good to be true, please stay off of that network. Verify that any public network you’re on is valid before conducting important business on it.
If you’re at a hotel or airport or even somebody else’s house, ask someone with some authority or knowledge before you access the network. And even then, use a VPN to ensure that your traffic is secure and encrypted before you proceed with any major decisions, like taking out a mortgage or Tweeting a picture of your meal.
Some things are just too important to risk.