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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Change your passwords for Privacy Day

This week marks the 38th anniversary of International Data Privacy Day, which is a great opportunity to pause and consider steps we should all take to enjoy our online experiences safely.

Look, we know that remembering all those user names and passwords is a hassle. So sometimes we try to simplify our lives by using the same user name and password for multiple accounts. I mean, only those non-critical, non-financial accounts, right? 

Seriously, wrong.  Using the same password for "non-essential" sites creates a trail for scammers to follow.

So it is a good idea  to celebrate Data Privacy Day by changing your passwords on all of your accounts.

And what is a good password?  Well, it has at least 12 characters, and includes numbers, uppercase (capital) letters and lowercase (small) letters, along with one or two symbols, such as # % or *

The problem is remembering them.  A good trick is to make up a sentence that means something to just you.  For example "My first car was a Hillman Hunter that had fifteen previous owners and turned out to be a lemon" can turn into "MfcwaHHth15po&totbal" -- which is pretty impenetrable, you must agree.

But, if you have as many passwords as I do, you need a lot of catch phrases. Maybe you can go through all the cars you have owned, or the names of family members with birthdates and hair color.  Whatever you choose, it makes it easy to have a little code, that (hopefully) only you can understand.  Therefore, if it is cars, your code could be "first" or "fc" for the first one, "second" or "sc" for the second, and so forth.

Nothing is infalliable.  But changing your passwords frequently is a good start.  So why not start today?

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