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What does it take to create a password? To protect your savings and your identity?

In today’s world, everything we do online requires a password. Although passwords keep us safe, if not created properly, they can open the door for the fastest growing crime in today’s society: identity theft.

Protect yourself; take the time to choose a secure password.

Here are some very important guidelines to think about when generating a strong password:

  1. Don’t devalue the importance of a password.
    Most people feel that passwords are more of a hassle than a safeguard. As a result, they choose something easy to remember, like the name of a close relative. Be sure to think about the purpose of the password you’re creating. Is it for an online video gaming site? If so, choosing a basic password may not be your major downfall (if you’re not too concerned about protecting your perfect score). But would you want the password to your online chess account to be the same as your online bank account?
  2. Treat your passwords like cash!
    Ask yourself one simple question: Do you leave large sums of money just sitting on your desk at work? Doubtful. So why would you leave your passwords out for all to see? Writing down your passwords can be risky; but if it’s absolutely necessary, keep them somewhere that only you have access to. A lockbox or Travel Safe is a great way to do this. They are relatively small and easy to keep close at hand, and also include a built-in lock for protection.
  3. Create clever passwords.
    Like the majority of people, you probably have hundreds of things you are trying to remember at any one time. Luckily, there are a few hints and tricks out there to help you create passwords that are easy to remember, yet still difficult for others to decode. Described here are reversing, characterizing, numerating, and combination basing techniques to help get you started.
    1. Reversing – Reversing is the art of taking a password you like to use and reversing it, so that the letters are in opposite order. For example, if your password was BUTTERCUP, just simply reverse the letters to be PUCRETTUB. This is a good low-to-medium-level security solution for low threat websites, but would be a poor choice for your bank account or 401K.

      Snakes would be sekans
      Battle would be elttab
      Buttercup would be pucrettub

    2. Characterizing – Characterizing requires taking a word and replacing some of its letters with symbols or characters (such as !@#$%^&*). While some websites may not allow symbols, if a website allows symbols, take advantage of the additional security. Here are a few examples of how you can use characterizing in your passwords:

      Snakes could become $nake$
      Battle could become B@++le
      Buttercup could become B^tterc^p

      Adding unique characters to the beginning or end of your words will help as well, (such as buttercup?!), just be sure not to use symbols that reflect what you are trying to protect. (Don’t use $Buttercup$ for your online bank account password.)
    3. Numerating – One of the easiest ways to add an extra layer of security is by numerating, or adding numbers to your passwords. These numbers should be easy to remember, but difficult for most people to figure out. Using memorable dates can be a good start, but steer clear from common-knowledge events such as birthdays and wedding anniversaries (either your own or those of close family members). The age you were when you got your first kiss, the day your spouse proposed, or some other private number would be a safe bet. If you don’t have the time to think that far into it, just simply adding four numbers to your password will add a measurable level of security. Here are some examples below:

      Snakes could become Snakes8181
      Battle could become 81Battle81
      Buttercup could become 8Buttercup181

    4. Combination Basing – Combination Basing is the act of taking two words that don’t mean anything by themselves, and linking them together to make a phrase. This phrase should have a special meaning that makes sense to you, allowing it to be easily remembered but difficult for others to understand. An event that stands out in your mind, a line from your favorite song, or an odd saying that your mother uses are all prime examples. Combination basing is a great way to create a medium level password that is difficult to decode, but easy to remember. Here are some examples below:

      CamperThink I love to sit by a campfire and think.
      IcecreamTire One time we drove to the mountains and stopped to get ice cream. When we came out, our tire was flat and we had to wait 12 hours to get it fixed.
      ChickenBasement I once purchased a home that had a large egg incubator in the basement.

    5. Also consider using multiple options from this list. Combining two or more of the suggestions above will quickly and easily take you from a low or medium level security password to a high level security password.

      ICECREAMTIRE6464 (uses Combination Basing and Numerating)
      I<E<REAMTIRE6464 (uses Combination Basing, Numerating, and Characterizing)
      ERITMAER<E<I6464 (uses Combination Basing, Numerating, Characterizing, and Reversing)

When managing your passwords, there are various options and strategies available that address both the importance of sound security as well as the concern for ease of use. Heeding the advice above is the simple first step toward identity theft prevention and financial security for yourself, your business, and your family.

Protecting your data is necessary for identity theft prevention, just as securing your hardware is vital to your company’s productivity. For help with physical security solutions for PCs, Laptops, and other IT equipment, call (800) 466-7636.