Few things are as important in personal computer security than choosing a good password. A weak password can have ramifications from the merely annoying (it seems that every week one of my Facebook friends gets their account hacked) to very bad (such as when your bank accounts get hacked). Using the same password for all of your website logins is a very bad idea; I’ve blogged about a good solution before in the form of the software Password Safe, which can generate random unique passwords for all of your logins. But you still need to choose a good strong password to use as the master password to Password Safe!
Short passwords and passwords with words in the dictionary are two things to avoid when selecting passwords. Mixing in numbers and uppercase is always a good idea to make a stronger password, but you can go further. To really randomize things, and ensure that the password you choose doesn’t have any easily-guessable words, a very good trick is to take a line from your favorite song and string together the first letter of each word to form your password. It’s much easier to remember than random jumble of letters, and odds are that it will form a nonsense word that won’t be in any dictionary.
If you still can’t remember a strong-enough password without help, write the password down on a piece of paper and put it in your wallet. You are probably doing a pretty good job of keeping track of your wallet and making sure it doesn’t get stolen, so why not put your password in there? The risks are very low, especially if you use something like Password Safe: if they steal your wallet and get that master password, it’s completely useless to them unless they steal your password file from your computer as well.
These tricks will help you avoid getting your online accounts broken into, and who doesn’t want that?
TechPasswordJune 15, 2009