How secure is your password?

I’m just as concerned about online security as the next guy.

Password4As result, throughout the years I’ve made changes regarding my use of passwords to strengthen them. In the beginning, I had a couple of cute passwords that probably anyone who knew me could have figured out.

As time went on, I took more care in creating them. They became less vulnerable to attack. I suppose my password strategy has been okay because I’ve never been hacked and never experienced online identity theft.

I’ve seen any number of TV shows and movies where a computer geek can break someone’s password in a matter of minutes. I don’t know how real that is, but I’m sure that people who use their dog’s name or their birth date could be at risk.

My password management system works, too. I manage them in two ways. I have my trusty old spreadsheet that now runs several pages long and I use something called 1Password to manage them more conveniently. Most of the time, I’m okay with how these systems work together.

In addition, my password always includes a capital letter and a numeral along with other letters and symbols. My strategy must be right on target because my passwords always score extremely strong when I register for a new website.

I guess I just don’t like it when I’m creating a new account and the online merchant (in their attempt to protect me) requires a specific format such as first letter capitalized, at least one number, and must be 8 digits long. Why so complex? After all, most PINs only require 4 digits. That provides only 9,999 combinations. If it works for PINs, why can’t it work for my passwords?

The thing that bugs me the most is when I open an account with an online merchant for what I know from the outset will be a one-time only purchase. I know I’ll never want to or need to go back to that online merchant, but I’m forced to do it their way.

It also bugs me that many online merchants often don’t tell me about their specific requirement pertaining to the number of characters, use of numerals and/or symbols until I’ve provided all the other information they were asking for and clicked through to “create account.”

Perhaps that instruction was there in the fine print. But remember, I’m only looking to make a one-time purchase. I don’t want to work that hard or take time much time. I want to place my order and get on with my life.

Just once, I wish one of these online merchants would say, “If you like your password, you can keep your password.”

Now, I’m sure the people that work with passwords from a security standpoint are going to take exception with my protest.

So I’d like to hear from if you think I’m wrong. Of course you’ll need to go to my website. Once there, you’ll need to register and create a password. It order to protect your privacy, you’ll be asked to create a password with 21 characters in all –– 4 capital letters, 7 numerals, 6 symbols, and 4 characters of your choice.

 

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4 Responses to How secure is your password?

  1. Nancy Moon says:

    Hi Gil, thanks for the reminder. I needed this. I shared on Twitter and LinkedIn as well. Happy 2014!

  2. I change passwords frequently. Thankfully, I’ve never been hacked either. I try to make them complicated, though if a hacker really wanted to get at me, I’m sure there’s not much I can do about it. I keep all my logins and passwords on index cards – and at this point I have about six index cards full. I couldn’t possibly remember them all!

  3. Great information, Gil. I’ve been using RoboForm to track passwords (with an old-fashioned back-up in the form of text documents), but an associate in internet security really likes LastPass, so I’m thinking about checking it out.

    • Gil Effron says:

      Elizabeth, both RoboForm and LastPass are new to me. Never heard of them before. Somehow, I expect that they’re all the same. But like you, I believe there’s nothing better or more reliable than a text document — especially when I travel and need to access something through someone else’s computer.

      Of course, there’s always the possibility of losing the text document. But there’s always the possibility we can lose our minds thinking about all this stuff.

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