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Create safer passwords

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August 2012

If juggling a ridiculous number of passwords for your various online accounts is driving you crazy, you’re not alone. For security reasons, passwords are required for everything from email to social media networks to online banking and shopping accounts, and even logging into your computer. But if you aren’t careful about how you choose your passwords or where you store them, the very thing that’s supposed to make your personal information secure might actually be putting it in jeopardy.  

How to choose a secure password
Using the same password for multiple accounts or choosing personal information that’s easy to remember (such as a house address, birthday, last name) is very common—and a big mistake. Those kinds of passwords happen to be the easiest for hackers to crack. There are several things to consider when creating a password that will keep your information safe.

  • Many websites will let you know whether your password is safe when you’re in the process of creating it. Pay attention to that, and if the site indicates that your password is weak or not secure, create a better one.
  • Do not use your name, common phrases or words or acronyms that can be found in the dictionary—including foreign languages.
  • Avoid prefixing or suffixing your password with numbers or using known keyboard patterns like “Qwerty2.”
  • Stop making sense. Create passwords that use a variety of letters, symbols and cases so you’re less predictable to hackers and password-cracking systems.
  • Use a random-password generator app like 1Password to create and store unique passwords. More on online password solutions below.

To keep your passwords safe, never send them to anyone via email—even yourself. Never write them down or keep them anywhere near your computer. It’s also recommended that you change passwords every 30 to 90 days.

How to remember your passwords
So when you have a variety of passwords composed of random characters that you’re not supposed to write down and that (should) change every few months, how on earth are you supposed to remember all of them?

There are several password management solutions online that are secured by one ultra-strong password and can store all of your passwords for you and recall them as needed. Many of these solutions have enhanced mobility so you can access them from anywhere on a smartphone. Password Safe and LastPass are some examples that range in price from free to varying monthly and yearly fees.

Password alternatives
If you’re still frustrated by managing multiple passwords, advances in technology are starting to provide alternative methods for keeping information secure.

  • HP Face Recognition is an innovative technology that uses your notebook’s webcam to take a photo of your face. That image is then used in lieu of a password to log into your notebook PC and all your important cloud services and websites, using a single sign-on.
  • HP ProtectTools saves your information in a protected vault and automatically logs you in when you want to access websites, applications and networks. It also offers added security with the HP Fingerprint Sensor that uses your fingerprint instead of a password.

While password security may eventually give way to more precise and manageable ways to keep data secure, it’s still unavoidable right now. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind the various strategies to limit the vulnerability of your personal information and remember what’s at stake when you’re creating your passwords.

For more information
Business protection solutions
How secure are your passwords?
Lessons from the LinkedIn password hack

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