Several of my online accounts are asking me to change my passwords frequently and I notice they are asking for more complex passwords. How can I be sure that my passwords and usernames are secure?
Online security is important for more than just financial and medical accounts. Any account that has information that may be used to crack your more sensitive accounts should be protected. Using your dog's name or spouse’s birth date for every nonsensitive account creates insecurity. Once someone figures this out, they have access to all your accounts. You also are likely to have client confidential data on your company system or stored in online collaboration accounts.
Here are two ideas: create strong passwords automatically and evaluate password strength. First, there are many "password robots" on the market (RoboForm
is a popular one) that will recognize URLs of your online accounts and store (in a file on your computer) passwords. A robot either remembers passwords you create or can generate really strong passwords (randomly generated combination of upper and lower case, numeric and symbolic characters). When you go to an online account site, the robot pulls up your login information and (if you choose) automatically fill in the login fields. You can generate and remember separate passwords for all your accounts.
Second, you can evaluate how strong your password is. Several online services will quickly show you how long it will take to crack a particular password. Use this application
to check your passwords. If they don't pass minimal standards, it's time to beef them up. Tip:
Long gone are the days when you could keep your passwords on a 3x5 card or in a small notebook. May of us have dozens of accounts and password management is no longer an incidental exercise. Use the techniques above to insure your personal and client data remain protected. © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA