A secure password could be the difference between money in the bank, or an empty account.  Just the other day my family got a fraud identification that someone had broken into my wife’s Walmart.com account and attempted to buy a new iPhone and have it shipped to Arizona. Thankfully, my bank’s fraud protection caught on and the charges were cancelled, but it was a good reminder to make sure our passwords are secure.

So how do you stay more secure online? (Hint: don’t do like the picture above.)  Here are a few ways to make secure passwords:

  1. Make your passwords as complex as possible.  Always try to use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and even symbols if a site will allow it. One way to do that is…
  2. Use a pass-phrase. That means your password actually becomes a series of words.  So let’s say you came up with with phrase “Iowa is my home”.  First, push it all together to make Iowaismyhome.  Then start swapping out some of the letters for numbers, like switching o with 0, or swapping I and 1.  Then you could come up with “I0w415myh0m3”, which is much more complex.
  3. Change your passwords regularly. A good rule of thumb is once every 6-12 months.
  4. Never use the same password twice.  If someone gets access to your email, you don’t want them to also have the password to your Facebook or more importantly your bank account.  Of course, that’s a lot to remember. One last option is to…
  5. Use a service to help create and track passwords.  Using a service like LastPass allows you to securely store all your passwords and generate new complex passwords more easily.  Instead of having to remember passwords for all your sites, you remember one complex passwords that allows you access to your account.

What about you? Have you ever had information stolen online or an account broken into? How do you make sure your passwords are secure?

(Photo courtesy of formalfallacy)

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