Securing your mailbox and other accounts

Posted on November 19, 2012

Creating a strong password is one of the most important steps for securing your computer, yet I run into weak or insecure passwords almost daily.

Here are a few guidelines I follow when creating a new, secure password:

  • Length: create a password longer than 12 characters
  • Complexity:
    • Create an alpha-numeric password; use both letters and numbers
    • Include non-standard characters. Examples are: ! @ # $ % ^ & *
    • Avoid using your name, birthday, company name, or other personal information that can be easily guessed; don’t use Sunfire in your password if you drive a Sunfire
    • Avoid using  common repeated characters such as ‘qwerty’, or ‘12345’
    • Try substituting letters for numbers, for example, 5 for S, 3 for E. An example would include ‘h3l10’ instead of ‘hello’
  • Avoid Similarity. Change your password every three months, and create a new password that is different from the old one. Do not change or just add one more character, change the whole password
  • Variation: Do not use the same password for everything. Create a completely different password for Windows, your email, your banking website. Your personal information will be more difficult to obtain if it is protected by multiple, complex passwords

It is important to keep in mind that your password is only secure as long as it remains a secret. Writing down your password can help in remembering it, however SIRKit strongly recommends that you do not keep your password written down, and do not keep your password on or in your desk, and do not place it on a sticky-note on your monitor or under your keyboard.

As well, do not share your password with anyone. If you do, while on vacation for example, ensure you change your password immediately.

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