Keep your passwords safe

I’m not sure why it is, but every few months, I seem to hear another story about the lack of password security.  Passwords are important!  They literally hold the key to your email, your bank account and basically any type of account you may have online.


Numerous lists of “most common passwords” exist but they all have something in common – really dumb passwords!  Using 1234 or abcd is NOT the right way to protect your assets.  Neither is using your name, your spouse’s name or your date of birth.



Photo credit: MikeNeilson via Flickr



And that’s the point.  If you are lazy or ignorant and you make a silly password, you take the risk of costing yourself time and money later on.  You make lose access to your bank account for a few days.  You might have to spend a few hours on hold with customer service while they reset your World of Warcraft account.  Worse, someone might go through your email and find sensitive information.


It’s not hard to make a good password.  Here’s what you need to do:
  1. Choose a non-dictionary word.  So don’t use “frog” or “happy” or anything like that.  Use a non-sense word that you can remember but is not a common dictionary word.  I like to choose words from other languages or uncommon Latin names for plants and animals.
  2. Use both uppercase and lowercase letters.  Do not simply capitalize the first letter of your word – that’s the first place people look!  A good technique is to choose a location that makes sense verbally but would be difficult to determine analytically.  For example, the perhaps you use uppercase on the letter after the first syllable or at the last vowel.
  3. Insert a number.  And do not simply add a “1” at the end of your password – again, that’s the first thing that people would try!  You could try replacing letters with similar looking numbers or use a complicated, but memorable number somewhere in your password.


Finally, using a password manager such as LastPass will help you remember all these complicated passwords and make your online browsing life much simpler!


What techniques do you use to keep your password safe?  Have you ever had to spend time to resolve a lost or stolen password issue?
Posted in: Life Hacks

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23 Comments

  1. I’ve had my email hacked once, but nothing beyond that. I try and make my password a sentence and intersperse numbers and other characters through it.

  2. I’ve never really had anything hacked or have had password difficulties. I have a LARGE sheet where I have all of my login/password info to my various accounts. It’s pretty crazy how many I have to keep track of, but my system seems to have worked thus far.

  3. Jon says:

    I read somewhere that you are incredibly more likely to have an online data breach (account hacked etc) than you are your house broken into, so a good idea is to make all your online passwords incredibly hard and sophisticated, but keep them written down on paper and keep them somewhat secretly but accessible in your house.

    • CF says:

      I think we may have read similar articles, because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that somewhere as well. It’s just so easy to set up an automated program that blasts a site with potential passwords.

  4. Don’t know if you guys get her up in Canada, but the Diane Rheme show had a discussion on this either yesterday or today. A discussion worth downloading the podcast of!

  5. This comes at a great time. At Thanksgiving, we learned that my wife’s Grandma’s password is 1234. I’ve started using some pretty elaborate combinations of characters for my passwords. But then I forget them! :)

    • CF says:

      Yikes! I’m always surprised that so many people choose to use something like that for their passwords. Hopefully someone suggested a change to her!

      I have to write my passwords down in case I forget them… Usually, just having one or two oddly placed characters while using a non-dictionary word is more than enough protection.

  6. I live with a computer engineer (the boy) and he is ferociously anal about me keeping solid passwords. It is good to be mindful of security flaws because we all are vulnerable while browsing online. This may seem ultra paranoid but I even keep a piece of opaque tape over the slot of my webcam on my main computer only because I know what a good hacker is capable of.

  7. I hate how back in the day you could have an all alpha password then it had to be alpha-numeric and now most passwords have to be alpha numeric plus one capital letter and sometimes a figure like $.

    I might have to try a password storing program that remembers all your passwords and you only need to remember the one but I would like it to be a little more automatic and not have to manually update everything.

    • CF says:

      Hmm, I’m not sure if LastPass does that, but that’s a good idea. It would be awesome if you could somehow update your “master password list” easily each time you signed up for a new service.

  8. I dislike my growing list of passwords, to conform to various site policies.

  9. Although I don’t use 1234, I do need to make some of mine more complicated, especially when it comes to more banking/credit card type sites. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. I use an offline password manager (Keepass) combined with a few very long passwords that I know by heart for a few select services. The rest come out of the password manager.

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