Passwords are the basic foundation of security in our digital world and should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately many people do, opting for easy-to-remember names, words and dates. They claim that long, confusing passwords are too difficult to remember. But I ask you: in the long run, is it more important to have an easy-to-remember password, or a bank account that’s safe from criminals? If you chose the latter, read on…
People think remembering a complicated password is much harder than it really is. After you use it a few dozen times it should stick in your memory.
If you are able to touch type (type without looking) you’ll find that over time your password is committed to muscle memory. If one day you find yourself struggling to remember it, just lay your fingers on the keys and start typing. Even if you are having trouble recalling the characters, your fingers may remember.
Finally if you must write down your new, safe, secure password, put it on a piece of paper and store it in a safe place like your wallet (or if you’re so inclined, put your passwords in a text file and encrypt it). Some people keep their passwords in a safe deposit box so family members can access their accounts in an emergency.
Software and online services should encrypt your password. That means an algorithm transforms your password into a cryptic cipher that would be unreadable to anyone who looks. Unfortunately, there are many poorly designed systems which store your password in “plain text” exactly as you typed it.
If a thief steals a plain text database, they’ll probably see your username and/or e-mail address alongside your password. They might not care about your account on “Joe’s Discount Online Warehouse Bonanza”, but with this complete set of credentials in hand, they can try logging into other sites like banks, e-mail and social networks. If you use the same password for all those logins, the thief now possesses the keys to your kingdom.
If you really don’t want to remember a lot of passwords, at least pick unique ones for important accounts like your bank account and email, then use a different password for all the trivial sites.