Password Tips for a Safer Web

The hassle of managing passwords is a side effect of the digital revolution that I could do without. Password problems have long been on the mind, and the more and more accounts that we need to access content and do our jobs grows on what feels like a daily basis. 

Being in the web design business, I often have to access clients passwords. Now, I think most of my clients are pretty clever folks. But despite that, a large proportion of them use remarkably predictable passwords  – usually some combination of business, pet, or children’s names, a birthday/year and possibly an exclamation point. At first, I assumed they were all giving me their lightweight passwords, but over the years, I’ve abandoned that theory and concluded that we can all be pretty lazy when it comes to online security.

We install security systems for our homes and cars, but protect our personal correspondence and banking details with “fluffy123!.” I’ve been just as guilty at times, and it isn’t hard to understand why. It seems that every website I visit has new criteria for their passwords. For a while it thought I’d figured it all out. I had come up with the perfect password, I could remember it easily, and had just the right combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters!  Of course, my smug password pride was soon dashed when some stupid site rejected it for too being too long! Can’t a girl get a break?

Baring an international programmer treaty on password standardization, we’ve got to do a better job, and I’ve stumbled upon a little trick that I’d like to share. So here it is,

Wendy’s tip for setting secure and memorable passwords:

Make your passwords as irrelevant as possible. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds.

Make up a sentence. It can be as crazy or as boring as you like, but be sure to include a number and a proper noun. For example:

The password “J&Kjo2ph” seems quite tricky until you realize that each character is the 1st letter, number or symbol for a word from a memorable sentence. I capitalize proper nouns and use symbols where they make sense. So in my mind, J&Kjo2ph is actually, “Jeremy and Kai  jumped over 2 purple hippos.”  That’s easy for me to remember since my husband is called Jeremy, my son is Kai, and we’ve got a couple of plastic hippos lying around (ah, motherhood).

You can make it personal, of course. And you may as well have fun with it. Every time I change my password, I try to settle on one that will make me chuckle. (There’s nothing like that strange look from a stranger in a coffee shop when you chuckle at your computer screen. )

Always Choose Double Authentication

We’re sure you’ve heard of double authentication. It’s a process that ensures that you and only you are logging into your account. This typically comes in the form of a short code that is generated by the site you are logging into that is sent to your cell phone, email, or an authenticator app. After receiving the code you need to enter it within a short time limit in order to access your account. Double authentication can be a little bit of a pain but it ensures that only you have access to your account. This is especially important for your email, online banking, and business social media accounts. 

When In Doubt, Use A Password Manager

A password manager stores all of your usernames and passwords in one safe place. When you log in to a website, your password manager will enter the username and password for you. This saves users time by making it more convenient to log-in on websites. Also, password managers safeguards your data with strong encryption algorithms and multi-factor authentication.

LastPass is a secure password manager that we highly recommend! Here are a few of our favorite features of LastPass:

  • Generates new passwords for you
  • Shows how strong your passwords are
  • Synchronizes your password database between the different devices you use (i.e. your phone, iPad, PC, etc)
  • Allows you to share passwords with others

Google also offers password management capabilities – learn more here:

Tips Straight From Google

Here’s a quick article from Google with a few more tips. This is a helpful resource in getting back into your accounts if you’ve been hacked or forget your password.

What tricks do you have for keeping track of all those pesky passwords? I’d love to know in the comments.

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