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10 Things I Know About ... Passwords

BY Michelle Drolet
Special to the Worcester Business Journal

1/6/2014
Drolet

10. Be clever

Create passwords from easy-to-remember sentences, such as < Patriots Win the Super Bowl>, using the first letter of each word and adding numbers and special characters at the beginning or end. (e.g., <12=PwtSB!>)

9. Create a management system

Consider creating one, very strong password and appending it with identifiers, such as !Kr0y-W3n$TOM and !Kr0y-W3n$ANN. This will help you recall passwords across many accounts.

8. Utilize special characters

The many special characters on your keyboard give you endless combination possibilities. As an example, you can easily turn into !Kr0y-W3n$.

7. Play with the characters

Spell something backwards, such as turning New York into kroywen or substituting numbers for letters, such as kr0yw3n . Also use random capitals such as Kr0yW3n.

6. Make them hard to guess

Go for longer and more complex. This complex password, D!Y!KtwTSJ?, is derived from the simple phrase: Do you know the way to San Jose?

5. Never share with anyone

Relationships with people you trust can change, and someone you trust may inadvertently reveal your password or perhaps get hacked if you let them use your password on their system.

4. Don't use terms reflecting things people know about you

Passwords should not include easy-to-guess personal information, such as the names of family members. Also apply this approach to the security answers you give for retrieving forgotten passwords.

3. Avoid things hackers can guess

Stay away from using the same character more than three times and don't include more than three sequential characters as they appear on keyboards. Also, avoid actual words and slang/jargon terms.

2. Change them periodically

Change each password as often as the value of what you're protecting dictates. Set up reminders to change regularly.

1. Go beyond the minimum

Be sure all your passwords are at least eight alphanumeric characters long, using a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation, e.g. !@#$%^&()_~-`{}".')
Michelle Drolet is founder of Towerwall, a data security services provider in Framingham. Contact her at michelled@towerwall.com.