Online Safety > Passwords

Online Safety Passwords Online Safety


Your password is the primary way that your account, webpage, or device distinguishes you from a total stranger.
 

Password Rules

 
  • Your password should be at least 15 characters long. The longer the better. Unfortunately, some applications limit you to 10 or 12 characters; there's nothing you can do about this, but see the next rule for ways to strengthen short passwords. 
  • Include as many different kinds of characters as the application allows—numbers (123), uppercase (ABC) and lowercase (abc) letters, and punctuation and special characters (!&*). 
  • Keep your password private. Most organizations have rules forbidding the sharing of passwords. And make sure your children keep theirs private as well (except, of course, they should tell you!).
 

Password Tips

 
  • Most hackers have moved way beyond just trying to guess password into "brute force" attacks. Brute force is the term used for trying every possible combination of letters, numbers, and special characters until one works. The longer and stronger your password, the more difficult and time-consuming it will be for a hacker or other criminal to figure out. Think about it:A 15-character password that uses all of the available characters has more than 4 octillion possible combinations. That's 4...followed by 27 zeros!
  • When creating a password, try to be creative. The more obscure the password, the more difficult it will be to hack. Never use passwords that include birthdays, phone numbers, or anything pertaining to your life, such as your pet's name. They can be guessed.
  • Never tell anyone else your password. If your computer is in a public place, never write your password down near it. 
  • Use a different password for each secure application you use. That way, if a hacker discovers one of them, they don’t have access to all of your accounts. 
  • Take special care to protect your passwords for popular social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram. Because there are so many millions of users, hackers find them target rich environments. 
  • Don’t save your passwords to your browser if given the option. A bad actor can more easily retrieve passwords saved in this manner. A password manager can be a viable option if you have trouble remembering your passwords, but it is important to research a password manager option that meets all of your needs and has strong security protections. 
  • If you are the system administrator for a business—even a small one—have your procedures state that employees must periodically change their passwords; every three months is a common frequency. That way, by the time password cracking software is able to figure out a password, it will already have been changed.
 

Password Protected Screen Savers 

  • Having a password-protected screensaver can reduce the chance that others are able to access your data. These can be set up so that they activate after the computer has been idle for a specified amount of time (10 minutes, 20 minutes, etc). 
  • Leaving your computer available to unauthorized coworkers or family members can jeopardize the integrity of your system and the security of your network. Also, this could allow children to access the computer at times that you deem inappropriate. With this in mind, you should be cautious regarding who you allow to access your machine.