4 Steps to Creating a Secure Password
As marketers, we are on the front lines of the privacy debate. Questions about targeting customers and tracking consumer habits are asked everyday. However, online privacy is more than just the debate over companies sending relevant marketing offers to consumers. It also involves protecting your personal data and private accounts from unsavory characters and internet hackers.
The easiest way to protect your online identity is to simply not give out your password on the internet. I’m sure many of you are reading this and thinking “Duh! Who would ever give out their password?!” Well, it’s actually more common that you think.
People have a lot on their minds nowadays. Remembering dozens of passwords is impractical and nearly impossible. As a result, many people have one general security key that they use most of the time and occasionally tweak a bit for very important websites. Typically, this general password is based on something that is easy to remember, such as a street address, pet or family member’s name, birthplace, or sports team. These topics are also the subjects that are frequently addressed via social media, an overlap that can leave you vulnerable to identity theft.
Are you familiar with the recent scandal involving Scarlett Johansson’s hacked email account? You might be surprised to know that the hacker who caused her so much headache wasn’t some criminal mastermind with extensive knowledge on how to bypass internet security. Instead, he was a fan who simply gathered public information from her personal social media profiles and other sites around the internet and guessed her password.
To protect your identity, it is wise to choose a password that is completely random. The best and most secure password will have the least personal relevance. Some websites impose a 20-character limit on security keys, but others allow them to be much longer. As a goal, 16-characters is a good number to aim for. Use length to your advantage to come up with a truly unique and un-guessable password.
Follow these steps and you can easily create a very strong password and secure your identity in just a few minutes.
Look at the time. Write down those numbers. My numbers are 228.
Log onto Wikipedia and click “Random Article”. If the first thing that pops up is way too long or doesn’t make any sense to you, click again. But remember that the point is to find a random set of words that will be memorable to you. Don’t just keep clicking until a page about your favorite movie comes up. Record your word (or words) and be sure to include capital letters. The page I found was Le Chat Bleu.
What is the date? Record it in number format. My numbers are 110311.
Add some symbols to your password. There are many other you can use, but here’s a list to get you started: ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) ? / < >.
Here is the final product:
Although this may seem like a random jumble of numbers, letters, and symbols it will be easy to remember using the memorization technique known as “chunking”. By mentally breaking your password down into its components (time, words, and the date) you should be able to memorize it in just a few minutes.
There are a number of websites that will rate the strength of your password. I used one that calculates how long it would take a computer to crack your password. http://howsecureismypassword.net/
My password would take 40 septillion years to crack. That’s 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years. If someone is willing to spend that much time trying to hack my password, I say go for it. I doubt I’ll even care by the time they get into my account anyway.