Password Security Tip – How to never use the same password twice anywhere!

Once upon a time, I had 3 passwords, one I used for banking, one I used for purchasing stuff on-line, and the third I used for everything else. I used words that were not easy to guess, using what I thought was secure, i.e. at least 1 capital letter, one small letter, one number, and one symbol with a minimum password length of 8 characters. That is, until I went to Certified Ethical Hacker (aka CEH) training… yes, there is such a thing as a Certified Ethical Hacker.

I cracked all of my passwords, well, instantly using some of the standard hacker tools that anybody can download. I quickly realized that I had to make some password security changes. After much thought, I came up with the idea of creating an algorithm and using a unique password for EVERY login that I have on the planet. That way, someone would have to crack multiple passwords from multiple web sites in order to have a chance at figuring out what my algorithm is. So, my tip to increase your password security is this; come up with your own algorithm in your head and use it. You will never have trouble remembering a password after that. For example, if I am logging into my email at work, and I worked for Lowe’s, my login account name was bsmith, I work at 234 Cherry Lane, and I am rather fond of 7,8,9,0, I might use the password LoBs234&*(). If you had not figured it out, the algorithm is 1 the first 2 letters of the place I am logging in at with the first letter capitalized and the second letter small, followed by the first 2 letters of my account name with the first one capitalized and the second one not, the address of the store where I work, and then hold the shift key down and hit 7,8,9,0, which is &*().

Using the same principle, if I am logging into my Google account, I might use GoBs5443&*(). If you had not guessed it, Go represents Google, Bs represents Brian Smith, 5443 is my home street address, and &*() are those fun characters made by holding down the shift key and hitting 7,8,9, and 0.

If anyone does guess your password algorithm, at any time, it is easy enough to come up with a new one. Also, you can modify your algorithm to account for those systems that force you to change the password every quarter by adding something such as the quarter you are in to the password algorithm.

Also, the safest passwords are greater than 14 characters. I could explain why, but just trust me on this. I know it’s a pain to have type in that many characters, but it is also a pain to have to make bail when you get arrested for bouncing checks after your identity was stolen.

Hope this helps you stay a little bit more secure and changes your way of thinking about password security.

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I have over 27 years of experience in a very broad range of technologies. I spent seven years of my career performing search engine optimization consulting, web site redesigns, and measuring the success of web sites. I also automate manual business processes, spend a lot of time designing and implementing database solutions, and solving other technology challenges for my clients.

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