Many (computer) generations ago, passwords were simple and easy to remember. You used your pet’s name or maybe your birthday. Passwords were only six characters long — at the max! We were so naive back then. As computers have advanced, so have hackers and viruses and even those pesky pop up ads. So, what do we do to protect ourselves so we can feel safe again? Let me walk you through some simple concepts of password help and why they can help.
Some sites will not let you use six character passwords anymore. Now days, if you use a common word for a password, it is considered useless for security. A good hacker with good software can steal your password in three minutes. Some sites won’t even let you use an eight character password with the new minimum becoming ten. Others even allow a maximum length of 55 characters! But, the more characters you use, the more password help you have to remember. It’s not like you can tattoo your password across your forehead so you won’t forget it.
Instead of remembering randomless, special-character infused strings of alphanumeric characters that make you feel like you are swearing every time you sign in, use a simple phrase that you can easily remember like: “Ate Fish for fRiday”. We’ll talk about the strange capitalization for password help in a second but this is basically a reminder of what I might eat on a Friday evening. How hard can that be to remember? It is still longer than just eight or ten characters but you don’t have to remember Pi to the 55th character just to sign in to Facebook anymore.
This is actually the golden key to password help and security here. The space bar makes it harder for computer hacking software because not all hackers count for spaces. It not only helps you remember your password by separating the characters into recognizable words but is also makes it harder for those hackers to guess where those spaces will go.
Next road block is the switch between upper and lower case. In the previous example, I capitalized two words at their first letter adding a third word at its second letter. Some will alternate back and forth which will make your hands cramp typing it in every day. Again, this makes it extremely harder for the hacker to not only guess where you used upper case but how many times? I’m still waiting for the day when someone creates the “RanSom LetTer” font which will make this password help a lot easier.
A password manager will let you avail yourself of those 55 character passwords that you wouldn’t remember if it was tattooed on your forehead (someone will do this). Some OS systems already offer this automatically. Whenever you see a pop up box asking if you want XYZ to remember your password, you are using a password manager.
Nothing will ever be foolproof which is why you should change your password every three months if not every month on high security information. But, in a world of identity theft, anything that helps is worth the thought and effort.