Does the idea of changing all your online passwords overwhelm you? Take a deep breath and remember my mantra: Baby steps.
If you have dozens and dozens of online accounts for things like banking, investing, shopping, playing, music, watching movies, social media… set a goal: change five or ten a day, a week…whatever works for you, but change them.
If you’ve got a cheat sheet for keeping them all straight, you should “password protect” that document if it’s stored on your computer. Don’t display your passwords on sticky notes stuck to your computer monitor or in a folder labeled, “COMPUTER PASSWORDS,” which is the equivalent of a flashing neon sign directing someone to your list.
Here is a link to an article from CBS News written in December 2013, offering some tips on how to create secure passwords. One suggestion that appears in just about every article I’ve read says do NOT reuse the same password over and over again, especially for email, banking, and social media accounts.
Microsoft used to offer a free site where you could test the strength of your password, but they charge for that service now. Kaspersky offers an educational option to test strength without typing in an actual password, just something that mimics the format you use.
The bottom line? The effort you put forth to protect yourself online will undoubtedly be time well spent.
My own hints for password work: (1) Prioritize. Change the most sensitive ones most often. For example, your bank account is probably more important than your subscription to an online magazine. (2) Use many different passwords, and where possible, different usernames. If someone gets the information for one of your logins, how many others can s/he access? (3) Email and social networking accounts are very important to protect, as they often contain a lot of information and clues to other aspects of your life that you may have forgotten. For example, it’s pretty likely that, with access to your email account, I could discover where you work, where you bank, and who your friends and acquaintances are. (4) Use complex passwords. Make them long, and use characters from all over the keyboard. JKh^$r214P(#ffV is a pretty good password. Dog123 is not.
All good suggestions, Eric. For some reason, I’ve never thought to use some of the symbols you’ve got in your example, but it makes a lot of sense.