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Change Your Passwords Already!

LoginImageIf you read this blog regularly, you know that we take every opportunity to remind everyone who will listen about the importance of cyber security and how desperate the cyber crime situation is becoming. We often remind our customers and blog audience to keep applications, software, and plugins updated to their most current versions – whenever possible.

We often hear that regular password changing is laborious, time consuming, and can complicate daily duties as we forget the new one, or where we wrote it down.

Listen, we feel the same way. But, that manageable discomfort pales in comparison to having your identity/finance/medical information stolen. So, knowing that this is something we MUST do, perhaps we can lean on the old adage that “desperation is the mother of invention.” Establish a date, once per month, that you will update all your passwords and designate an hour or two to the process (not that it would even take that long) – so you don’t feel that what you are doing is interrupting anything else.

Then, take this simple suggestion to take the “stress” out of new password selection: Use a naming convention. By definition, a naming convention is, “a set of rules for choosing the character sequence to be used for identifiers – which denote variables, types, functions, or other entities in either a source code or other form of documentation.”

Basically, the trick here is choosing a related family of terms and applying some related numerical code to the sequence. For example, if you have a favorite sports team, you could use your favorite all-time players. For example, if your team is the New York Giants and your favorite all-time player was Lawrence Taylor (recent indiscretions notwithstanding), you could go with Ltaylor@5656, by capitalizing the first letter of his first name, and then connecting his jersey number (used twice in succession) with the “@” sign.

As we suggested before, when the password change date comes around, you already have a naming convention in place. If you like Lawrence Taylor, you probably also like Pepper Johnson. So, you can go with Pjohnson@5252. These random passwords being changed out consistently, make things far more difficult for hackers and they are simple for you to remember.

Not a sports fan? That’s okay. Maybe you lived (or currently live) in a dorm with room numbers? For example, your friend Melissa Swartz (name is made up for this article, but we assume somebody is named that, somewhere) lived in room 622. Ta-da! Mswartz@622. Now you are good for the month. Next month? Jodie Lewin from 603 – Jlwein@603. Simple, right? All you need to do is find something familiar that is easy for you to conjure, that would otherwise be seemingly unrelated to your life to outsiders.

Got it? Good (then do it).

The idea here, as callous as it may seem, is to make yourself less attractive to cyber criminals by taking advantage of the fact that others are not. Sure, we hate to see anyone be victimized, but the truth is, those who are proactive will be FAR better off in the long run.

As they say, an ounce of prevention …

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