Did you know today was a world-wide holiday? Well, maybe not exactly a holiday, but a day nonetheless. There are groups celebrating and working hard to further the sentiments that today honors. There are events, press releases, and even entire websites devoted to this special day. We’ve already had Easter, and Mothers’ Day is quickly approaching but not here yet. “So exactly what day is today?” you ask?
Yes, Password Day really is a day. And today, May 7th, is Password Day 2015.
Alright, so it’s a day that will never probably reach the significance of Mothers’ Day. But it is a day worth noting. It is a day that may save you thousands, maybe even millions of dollars. Now that will buy you a few cards for Mothers’ Day (but not as many as we would probably hope).
Passwords can be an absolute thorn in the flesh for many of us. We are supposed to have a different password for every different account. Then they all have different requirements, but regardless of the actual requirements, you are supposed to use something more akin to a random sequence of gibberish than a password you might actually remember.
I get it. I have one account that I don’t access very often, but one that I can’t give up either. So every time I need to access the account, I end up going through the whole ‘change password’ process just to be able to sign in. What should take all of 10 seconds ends up taking more like 10 minutes. Uggghh. Passwords.
Regardless of being the thorn they are, passwords have simply become an essential part of our interconnected world. They are the last bastion of security before someone has access to our money, credit, and other personal information. Without them, our information would simply be available to anyone and everyone that cared to look.
While the Center for Financial Resources works with many people to recover from financial crisis, often times involving identity theft, we would rather not have the situation exist in the first place. For the sake of your financial and identity security, here are some tips to help you stay password-secure.
Use a password that is 10-12 characters long
Use a combination of capital/lower case letters, numbers, and symbols
Use different passwords for each account (otherwise, if one gets hacked, they can easily get into all your others with the same password)
Change your passwords regularly
Use simple passwords that anyone could guess
Keep your password on a sticky note on your computer screen (hey, I’ve seen it)
Share your password with anyone that wouldn’t give their own life for you
Keep your passwords on your phone and then not lock your phone
While we often think of the big things like bank accounts and medical information portals, we need to be equally mindful of the seemingly minor ones as well. With the proliferation of Facebook and other social media sites, anything posted on your account is considered a statement directly from and about you. Unfortunately, once it’s on the internet, it’s almost impossible to guarantee that it has been completely erased. And then future employers, significant others, and other people will end up Googling you and reading that hacked post as if it were you putting that photo out there yourself. Remember the little guys.
I can’t really say exactly how many account passwords I have out there. There are the bank accounts, credit card accounts, utility bills accounts, email accounts, social media, forums, activity accounts for the kids, and then there are all of the different logins for work (I’m guessing around 20 just at work). How do you keep them straight if you follow all of the rules listed above?
- Use a secured password organizer on your phone or computer. Just one master password and you have a secure list of all of your logins.
- Use common features in your logins. It may be a specific combination of numbers and symbols attached to the different words you use, but still make it not just another normal word (like ‘password’).
- Use a common misspelling that will make it very hard to guess, but help you remember. For example, every one of your passwords uses a word with a double ‘s’, but you intentionally misspell it with only one ‘s’. ‘Password’ becomes ‘Pasword’.
- Use other security features if offered. While you may forget your password, it’s pretty hard to forget your fingerprint to get on your cell phone.
I’m certainly not saying moms aren’t important. By all means, at least call your mom on Mothers’ Day if you can. A card would be nice too. But today, spend just a little time buttoning up your password security. Just a few moments can mean protecting your identity, money, and credit.
written by Breck Miller
image courtesy passwordday.org