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Understanding Passwords and Online Account Safety

In today’s online world, there are many things that must be considered. However, one of the most vital factors in today’s world is the importance of proper user ID and passwords. Several sites require login information, including but not limited to: e-mail, Apple devices, Google (for e-mail and Android phones), banking & stock market sites, community message forums, and even health care records are available online now – with a user name/ID and password.

That being said, with so many various sites that require user IDs and passwords, why would we not maintain or store our passwords safely? There are numerous ways to store login information. The old fashioned way (pen and paper) is still viable today, and you can lock your password book/paper in a safe if you are that concerned with it. Another way to store login information is via a password manager – just ensure it is a reliable and reputable password manager. LastPass seems to be a decent password manager. One could also create and save a document, or spreadsheet, with login information. These documents and/or spreadsheets can be password protected as well.

It is recommended that you change your passwords every 3-6 months for security reasons, however only a minute portion of online users follow this recommendation. For maximum security, it is important to change passwords somewhat regularly. This brings me to my next thought – password strength and duplication.

The strength of a password is very important. Some websites require your password to contain a series of letters, numbers, and/or symbols – however many websites do not. It is best to err on the side of caution when it comes to password strength. I have known of several people using “password” as their actual password on websites, or even using “1234″. These examples are definitely not secure and should be avoided. It is also a good idea to stay away from using your user name or portions of your user name in your password. One example of a stronger than average password would be “I<[email protected]”, if you look carefully, lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols are all included. Now just for amusement, do you see what the password actually says? I <3 (heart) Airplanes.

Another recommendation when it comes to password security is to never use the same password on multiple websites. For example, do not use the same password for your Netflix account as you do for your bank account. It is uncommon, but not unheard of, for websites to be hacked and have their user information compromised. If the information is compromised and you use the same password for your banking, Netflix, e-mail, and health care, there lies the possibility of having someone access your other accounts – if you share passwords and user IDs with various sites.

While many use the same user name / user ID, which is fine, one must ensure that different passwords are always used for every account. Online security is not to be taken lightly, as I have witnessed individuals who have had their accounts lost and information compromised firsthand. If the giant eBay can have their databases compromised, almost anyone can. Granted, if you’re a small time individual whose name is not everywhere, you don’t have to worry about this nearly as much as someone who is famous, although it is still a concern that must be addressed properly. Protect yourself as best you can, with a strong password that includes lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

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