10 tips to protect your passwords

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Let's play a game. Let's see if I can guess one of your passwords, or at least part of it. Is it your dog's name? Does it have your birthday in it? How about your favorite sports team? 

Did I get close? If not, you're doing all right, but there might still be room for improvement when it comes to creating strong passwords (How are weak passwords still a thing!?). And since it's World Password Day, there's no better time than now to jump on the bandwagon with these password tips:

1. Don’t use part of your login name in your password. 

2. As I mentioned before, stay away from using numbers that mean something to you (birthdays, phone numbers, social security numbers, special dates, street addresses, etc.).

3. Avoid using the “Remember Password” feature on your internet browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.).

4. Passwords aren't for paper. Don’t write them down--not on a sticky note under your phone, under your keyboard or in a Word doc or notes on your computer.

5. No one, I repeat no one, should ever ask you to email your password to them.

6. When entering your password, be aware of your surroundings. Make sure no one is watching. And give others a little privacy when they're typing their own passwords. It's just as important to protect yourself by never having access to someone else’s password. You don't want that liability. 

7. Corporate passwords should never be used for personal use (Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.).

8. If you think that your company password might have been compromised, contact your IT staff immediately to change your password. 

9. User accounts that have system-level privileges granted through group memberships or programs must have their own unique password.

10. Applications must not transmit passwords in clear text over the network (I’m pointing my finger at developers that take shortcuts!).

Bonus tip: Use passphrases! Passphrases are not the same as passwords. A passphrase is a longer version of a password and is more secure; it’s typically composed of multiple words. Because of this, a passphrase is better protected against dictionary attacks. A great passphrase is relatively long and contains a combination of upper and lowercase letters and numeric and punctuation characters. An example of a good passphrase: DavidHasselhofE@ts@mcdonalds!p

However, there are some things to note: Don’t use famous or well-known lyrics/lines from songs and/or movies. Try to change up the spelling of the password to something that you’ll remember i.e.: MyFavoriteBandIsYoutwo….or BruceW@yne4Pre$ident.

Armed with these password tips, you'll have much more secure passwords that protect you and your information. Join the conversation on Twitter with #NCSAM and #CyberAware.

 

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Contributor

Dale Meredith

is a high-demand contract Microsoft Certified Trainer and project consultant. Along with his 17 years of experience as an MCT, Dale also has an additional 7 years of senior IT Management experience. Dale worked as a CTO for a popular ISP provider and a Senior Manager for a national hardware supplier. His technology specialties include Active Directory, Exchange, Server, IIS, PowerShell, SharePoint, System Center/Desktop Deployment, and Private Cloud. Dale's wide network of IT contacts stay connected through his popular blog site at www.dalemeredith.com.