Edited by Lynne Hand

What passwords do you choose on the internet? No don’t tell me!  That would be really silly.  I was really asking how you arrive at your choice. Some companies insist on including numbers, some want at least one capital letter, and others insist on the password having at least 8 characters, some require all of the above - a mixture of  letters, punctuation, symbols, and numbers.  All of which is why I’d be lost without my little black book, because no matter what they say about not writing down your password, it’s the only way I can possibly remember them all.  To be honest, I would prefer to use just one password, but I have been assured that this isn’t a good idea, as far as security is concerned.

 

Maybe you use family data such as birth dates or wedding anniversaries. Pet names perhaps? Again, this is a real no no. Microsoft warns that any personal information: your name, birthday, driver's license, passport number, or similar is a security risk. Seemingly in these days of cyber crime we need “strong” passwords. Microsoft even gives out security advise for choosing a password:-

  • Length. Make your passwords long with eight or more characters.
  • Complexity. Include letters, punctuation, symbols, and numbers.
  • Use the entire keyboard, not just the letters and characters you use or see most often.
  • The greater the variety of characters in your password, the better. However, password hacking software automatically checks for common letter-to-symbol conversions, such as changing "and" to "&" or "to" to "2."
  • Variation. To keep strong passwords effective, change them often. Set an automatic reminder for yourself to change your passwords on your email, banking, and credit card websites about every three months.
  • Variety. Don't use the same password for everything. Cybercriminals steal passwords on websites that have very little security, and then they use that same password and user name in more secure environments, such as banking websites.

And they have other dos and don’ts.  Avoid creating passwords that use:

  • Dictionary words in any language.
  • Words spelled backwards, common misspellings, and abbreviations.
  • Sequences or repeated characters. Examples: 12345678, 222222, abcdefg, or adjacent letters on your keyboard (qwerty).

The good news is that you can check to see how strong your password is here:-

https://www.comparitech.com/privacy-security-tools/password-strength-test/

But passwords aren’t just annoying because they are difficult to think up and then remember, there are other reasons that they can bug you.  At present I am doing an online college course. Without telling me they decided that everyone had to change their password. I presumably got a message from them, but I cannot access their messages without my password (the new one of course), so that isn’t a lot of help. It took 4 days for them to respond with lots of complicated instructions. These were followed carefully, but I still cannot access either my courses or messages. They did however manage to take my last payment.

Funny that, isn't it?