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And The Password Is . . . Protect Yourself

Photo by Flickr user Richard Parmiter

Quick! What’s your email password? How about your Facebook password? And your online banking? If you have the same, or similar passwords for two out of the three, you may be at risk for getting hacked. At the very least, getting hacked is a huge pain in the butt. The worst case scenario is you could be a victim of identity theft and lose some money.

I was lucky. My email contacts were told I was in London and in dire need of about a thousand bucks. Most of my friends and family knew it was a hoax, even though it was written in my ‘tone’ of voice. The others who were truly worried about me didn’t have enough funds to send the money anyway.

Google shut my gmail account down within minutes of the false email, thank goodness. I only caught the hack because I couldn’t log into my account and logged into a secondary account, which also received the bogus email.

After assuring friends and family members that I was fine and not needing money, at least not anymore than usual, I began researching password security. Google? Nope – just a phone call to my big brother, who was working in internet security at the time. He’d seen the email from my account, knew it was false and deleted it. However, he didn’t bother to call me. That’s another story though.

He told me to have completely different passwords for every.single.online.account. Seriously?!? Each one? Completely different? How in the world was I going to come up with those? To which he replied, “just do it.” Oh. Gee, thanks.

Next call – a friend. A female friend. (just sayin’). Her advice worked great and I’ve had no other problems. Here’s what she told me. Write a short sentence about the site you’re logging on to. Take the first letter of each word to make your password. For example:

My Twitter Password 4 Meeting Fun People = MTP4MFP

Simple, right? During this period of organizing you might want to consider redoing your password. Yes, for ALL of your passwords. Mr. Sunshine, aka my brother, recommends changing your passwords every 3 months. Let’s get real here. There’s no way I’m doing that every 3 months. Every 6 months? Maybe. Then all I do is combine the last letters of each word to make up my password.

You’ll also want to print off a hard copy, or two, of your password compendium. It’ll come in handy if and when your computer crashes.

Redoing all of your passwords is a bit of work, and may seem unnecessary if you use an internet browser that ‘remembers’ your passwords and you have Norton or some other security software. Personally, I’d rather be proactive rather than putting trust in some ‘browser’. A small investment of time is worth the huge peace of mind. And not having to call my brother.

Do you have a tip for making up passwords? I’d love to know how you do it.

Colleen Jorgensen blogs at Mural Maker and is a self-taught artist, decorator and writer. For the past 15 years she has painted murals and painted tapestries for homes and businesses in Northern California. Colleen lives with her husband near Sacramento, close to her 3 grown stepsons, her beautiful 3 year old grandson and her 95 lb. bull mastiff.
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4 Responses to “And The Password Is . . . Protect Yourself”

  1. Nat says:

    This is the best way I’ve ever found to do passwords. Here’s a tip to make it easier: consider theming your phrases so they are easier to remember. Maybe different lines from the same song? Maybe favorite lines from a movie? I have different themes for different things in my life (i.e. all the passwords that I need for all my blog stuff are all from the same theme). I don’t write down my passwords, but I keep a list with a hint so I can remember which phrase goes with what.

  2. AJ says:

    Thanks for sharing about this important issue and I totally agree with you! I too have been hacked, my email, Paypal acct and my bank account was compromised due to my passwords being similar. Talk about a nightmare! I now have separate passwords for everything and I religiously change them every quarter. I created a system that helps me keep up with my passwords. It’s a pain but well worth it because I promise, it’s an awful feeling and a bigger pain when you become a victim!

    Here’s another tip I learned after my hacker experience…
    Norton AV told me if you use the auto-fill option and never type out your login information, it would help against keystroke theft and/or password theft. Same thing when you
    enter credit card/bank/general acct numbers. If you don’t use or don’t have an Identity Safe option that comes with most security protection then they suggested creating a file in Word/Excel(created offline and DON’T name file something obvious), where you can easily copy your acct info and paste it onto the site instead of typing the info out. Keystroke/loggers and Hackers cannot capture the info as easily if you copy/paste. Hackers may find a way around this but I figure anything I can do to help limit my exposure is well worth it!
    I never type out logins or account numbers anymore – [email protected]

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