Proper password storage is the next step for protecting your data
Last time we visited, I encouraged you to create a strong password. If you haven't done that yet, let me repeat the importance of doing so. A strong password has at least eight characters including one symbol, one number, one capital letter and one lower case letter.
Let's assume after reading my last column you were inspired to immediately change your passwords to meet the best practice guidelines. Let's also assume you followed my suggestion to create different passwords for each account you had online.
Now you have to remember a couple dozen complex passwords. This is the dilemma I believe has kept some people from creating and using the best passwords.
Research and discussion on alternatives to passwords are taking place. The Huffington Post, for example, recently reported that, "Biometric Identification Will Replace Many Passwords In Next Five Years, Says IBM Scientist." Sounds very science fiction to think our computer will do a retinal scan to allow us access to our favorite social media page, but that is one of the options being talked about right now to address this password issue.
It may take some time for any alternative solutions to affect change in our homes or offices. So, in the meantime, we need practical advice on how to manage the passwords in our life.
There are a number of "password management" systems on the market you can use. They are basically programs that store your passwords for you electronically. Millions of people use these systems, however, it is important to realize the pitfalls to having all your passwords stored on an application that is located on your phone or computer.
First, the company that runs the password storage application can get hacked. We have seen some of the most secure systems in the world get hacked in just the last few months alone.
Second, people lose their phones and laptops at an alarming rate. A quick review of online studies shows the number of stolen laptops range anywhere from more than 10,000 a week stolen from airports to one laptop stolen every 12 seconds, or 2.6 million a year in America alone. We are human, and with all the gadgets we carry around on a daily basis, we are bound to lose one eventually.
So, we need to ensure we do everything we can to keep our passwords safe, as they are the key to our data and personal information.
Today's Quick Tip (QT):
Create strong passwords, and store them safely.
Chose a sentence that means something to you and make that the base of your password. Make sure you use separate passwords for each account.
Phrase you can remember easily: "Some families love to see movies in the theater."
Translated into a password using the first letter of each word: Sfl2$m1tT
Now, write down password hints (not the passwords themselves) for your online accounts on a piece of paper and store them in a safe spot. It may seem old fashioned to use pen and paper to keep track of your passwords, but right now, it’s one of the best options we have.
To get more great information about staying safe online, including access to free monthly newsletters, webcasts and more, visit the Center for Internet Security at www.cisecurity.org. Stay tuned for our next chat!
Kristin Judge is the Director of Partner Engagement for the Center for Internet Security, Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.