The recent incidents of massive data theft by hackers from enormous companies and organizations like Target and the IRS, to name just two, really got me thinking more about security on the internet. I decided it was time to actually read the warnings and disclaimers in the mandatory Privacy and Usage Policies of all the unique sites I utilize. This was not the best idea I have ever had. To my surprise I regularly use one-hundred-forty-one (141) unique sites which require passwords. That’s a huge amount of “legalese” requiring numerous references to my Webster’s New World Dictionary.
Honestly, I get it; all the double-speak and repetition has a purpose and is designed to make you feel well protected in your online universe. So many of the policies are laboriously long, annoyingly redundant and ridiculously intimidating that the average person might read 100% of one or two of them. They certainly aren’t going to read 100% of 141 of them! UNTIL THERE IS A PROBLEM and by then it’s too late.
After all my reading, I walked away with two pieces of advice that are pretty universal yet still treated lightly by so many people.
#1: Keep Your Password Secure
#2: Change Your Password Frequently.
Let’s examine these.
KEEP YOU PASSWORD SECURE. That sounds simple enough. I know there’s an app for that. The app allows you to keep ALL your passwords secure with one password necessary to access ALL your secure information. So, congratulations, you can now eliminate the need for a hacker to tap into each of your security passwords separately, they can get them all by accessing a single piece of data! Even so, this is still a better option than the fellow at lunch that proudly showed me the 70+ accounts and passwords his grandson had entered on his iPhone. No secure app for him, just a phonebook entry cleverly listed in his “contacts” as Mr. Pass Word. I wish I had made that up but it’s true.
CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD(S) FREQUENTLY. Sure, let me get right on that… Oh, the rules have changed for what is an acceptable password? OK, let’s check them out:
*Your password must be 11 characters long
*It must contain one uppercase letter, one number, one special character and one algebraic equation
*You may not use the same letter or number twice, except for the number six which you may only use three times and in succession.
*It must not spell any real word and be impossible to memorize
*It may not contain the current year but may contain your Social Security Number and your year of birth
*You may only complete your password after answering the Security Question, which is “What is your mother’s maiden name?” (Because no one can figure that out)
*You must not pause once you have started entering your new password or you will be required to begin again and unable to use any letters or characters you just typed
*If you are going to cry, now is a good time to do it because you will need to repeat this process every 30 days for the rest of your life!