Online Security

As society becomes more technologically advanced, online security becomes an even greater issue than it has ever been. From stealing your credit card information to stealing your identity, you’ve got to be ever vigilant that there might be someone there, looking over your shoulder. There are a multitude of ways a thief can steal your identify, or your money, so it pays to make that as difficult as possible for those who snoop.

I’m going to be sharing with you a very simple process to making your passwords as difficult as possible for someone else to figure out, while keeping it very simple for yourself. To begin with you’ve got to understand that a separate password is a must for each of the accounts you’ve got online. Now, I don’t subscribe to that line of thought for all of my accounts, just those that contain personal information, or access to my future (i.e. bank accounts, investments, etc.), which winds up being pretty much all of them where I have an account.

But, now you ask, “How am I going to create and remember all of those passwords?”

Here is where I share with you a very simple process. In year’s past it was okay to have a simple 6-8 character password, and feel relatively safe in knowing that it would be difficult for someone else to figure out. As time has progressed, and technology has advanced, that simple password will become your undoing. Computing power has advanced to the point that it takes only a matter of minutes to figure out that simple password you have created as protection for your important information, and your money. Now it has become necessary to create a 12-16 character password, consisting of upper and lower case characters, numbers, and special characters. Also, you do not want that password to be names of family members, important dates (like birthdays), or too many consecutive characters in a row.

By now your eyes are glassing over, and your brain is beginning to hurt just trying to comprehend what I am saying. Let me be simple about it. If you want to protect yourself online, read on.

Let’s first talk about how to create your password, and then we’ll discuss on how to remember that password. As I mentioned earlier you’re best security is in creating a 12-16 character password, consisting of upper and lower case characters, numbers, and special characters. The best way to do this is by selecting characters at random. This, though, creates some difficulty when attempting to remember those characters, not to mention a different set for every account. So, I suggest that your meaningful sentence, or sentences, utilize key characters from that sentence, or sentences, to create your password.

Let me show you what I mean by way of an example. The sentence you decide upon is: “I love Marble Canyon and the surrounding area. Do you, too?” Looking at these two sentences I can use the first letter of each word and substitute the number 2 for the word too. The resulting password would look something like this: IlMCatsa.Dy,2?. If you want to make it even more secure toss in the quotes: “IlMCatsa.Dy,2?”

A pretty simple process, don’t you think? No? Admit it. The creation of the password is simple. The remembering part is not. So, I’ve devised a simple process of remembering those passwords. It’s all based in how you save your bookmarks, or favorites, within your browser. Let me show you what I mean.

When you save a website as a bookmark the site will automatically select a name of the website for you. Instead of agreeing to the name that was chosen, change it and include your password at the same time. What? Suppose someone steals my computer or hacks into it? Then they will be able to see my password. Well, I really didn’t mean that you should save the entire password, I meant that you should save something meaningful that would remind you of the password.

Let me show you what I’m talking about. Suppose you want to save the site for the logon page for Bank of America and that your password is the one we discussed above (“IlMCatsa.Dy,2?”). So, when you go to save the website change the name of the website to: BofA (Marble Canyon). In this fashion you will know where you are logging into and the Marble Canyon reference should remind you of what the password is for that site.

With a different password for all of your accounts this is a relatively simple solution to a complex problem. Just be sure that you do not make those sentences too much alike. You don’t want something like this to become the norm for all of your logons: “I love ???? and the surrounding area. Do you, too?”. That would be too easy to figure out on all your sites. Mix up those ideas. Have some fun with it. If you knew what mine were, then you’d really understand what fractured thoughts bounce around in my head. That just might drive you over the edge.

Another way of remembering all those passwords is through software—a password manager. These are programs that store your passwords for you so that you only have to remember the password to log into the manager. I utilize Dashlane and have it set up locally. That is, I store all my passwords on my laptop and not in the cloud, however I do not allow my browser to remember any of my passwords (another simple level of security). The exception to this is that I do not allow Dashlane to store passwords for banks and investments. That way if someone steals my computer and figures out the password for Dashlane they can only get into those accounts that have very little information in them, and no access to my money or my entire identity. That is why I always add that little password reminder when I save a bookmark.

If you really want to maintain security online, then you should think about going a step further. Active a two step login process every chance you get. Most financial institutions, and the majority of the larger sites (Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc.) have instituted this option for you. Some of these have a couple of different options, but I have opted for the text message to my phone. Whenever I log into one of these accounts, there is a one time, 6 digit code that is sent to my phone via text message. I have a limited amount of time to type that into the website in order to access my account. The major drawback to this is if I lose my phone. Overlooking that possibility, I like the idea that it allows me to log into my account from any device, anywhere, providing I remember my password and have my phone with me.

Setting up the two step login process can be quite daunting. I am not going to go through it with you, but am going to direct you to Kim Komando, who does a great job of walking you through the process for several different sites.

You now have options available to you when it comes to online security. What you do with those options is entirely up to you. With identity theft being on the rise, I urge you to protect yourself. The level of protection, however, is your choice.