Passwords: One Piece of the Privacy Puzzle
In our technology-centered world, passwords are used to secure everything from bank accounts to cell phones, not to mention computers. Developing strong passwords is a necessary way to protect private cyber information, but exactly how to do this is up for debate.
Should we create strong, complicated passwords that we can’t remember, but need to write down - whether it’s stored on paper or electronically - widening the security risk of them being accessed by another party? Or should we use passwords that are simple enough that we can commit them to memory, but increasing the risk that they can be more easily cracked?
There is no exact science for creating strong passwords. Conventional wisdom from security professionals can help to set a few basic guidelines.
The pros advise that you should never simply use words that are found in a dictionary. Instead, mix characters and numbers in a way that is memorable to you.
When selecting numbers, do not choose ones that may be personally identifiable to you; your birthday, Social Security number and phone number are off limits.
Always use different passwords for accounts that involve monetary transactions. The only thing worse than having one account cracked into, would be to have all of your accounts cracked into. It is also a good idea to change your passwords regularly.
It is not easy to follow these rules, and try to commit passwords to memory. The rampant use of little yellow Post-it notes, cluttering all of our desktops or jammed into our wallets is a telling sign of this.
Keeping passwords secure at the office is not any simpler, and may have larger implications.
According to a recent study by Nucleus Research and Knowledge Storm, one in three workers undermines company security by writing down computer passwords.
Technological shortcuts lie in more advanced methods like biometrics, smartcards, and even password management software, which are all available options, especially for companies looking to ease security risks.
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