In light of FitnessSF’s recent debacle, I am reblogging a post I wrote some time ago regarding passwords. In a list of ‘must dos’ when setting up your online presence, this is the easiest and prolly most important point.

So unless you are George Costanza and are using a foolproof childhood fondness no one can guess for your passwords, you should think hard about what your password for an important login will be.

Common Mistakes

In these days, it is imperative to have secure passwords.  If your password is ‘password’ or ‘qwerty’ or any easily accessible personal information (such as your birthday or pet’s name), you are extremely vulnerable.  A simple Google search will prove that these are the most common passwords.  Make sure not to use a single word, a common phrase or a common sequence.  Common names are also a big no–no.  For instance, “jesus”, “angel”, “iloveyou”, and”123456” are very bad passwords.  And how many people do you know who are named “Michael”?

Secure passwords

An effective password involves combining letters along with numbers and symbols.  You have a whole keyboard at your disposal, so use it!  It is also important to use a long string of character in your password.  For instance, “g7m@” is a lot less effective than “g7m@6ypu2”.  You can also combine letter cases for added security.  “G7m@6yPu2” Is a very secure password, as it is not likely to be pulled out of a hat. After you have choosen a password, choose different ones for  different logins; don’t just use one password for all your logins!

And most important, make sure you have a very different password for your bank login versus your Facebook, as well as other sensitive finiancial sites.

Remembering those passwords

After you have established your password(s), make sure to have a way to recall them.  But fear not, you don’t have to rely on your grey matter to remember weird combinations like “G7m@6yPu2”.  Many use passwords managers (such as Firefox’s remember feature) but I personally like more of a manual system.  Write your passwords down and then change the numbers and or letters to offset the password, with a key only you know.  For instance, you can advance the letters five spaces in the alphabet (looping back to A when you hit Z) and the numbers back one, thus turning “G7m@6yPu2” into “L6r@5dPz1”.  This way you can have a record of “L6r@5dPz1” and you are still secure.

After you follow these steps, you will have a secure system for managing your logins. But there’s one more step. Every feew months or so (my time frame is about six months, when I change the clocks along with the batteries in my smoke detector), change your passwords.

Oh, and on second thought, George Costanza’s BOSCO password wasn’t very effective.  Kramer figured it out in mere minutes, and if Kramer can do it, anybody can.

Are you guilty? Maybe it’s time to change a few of those passwords…