New Password for the New Year

This post originally appeared at my WordPress account, and is reposted here with extra goodness.

It’s a new year! Do you have a new password to go along with your New Year’s resolution? If you’ve been using the same password for a while now, it’s time to change it. If you’ve been using the same password for every login, it’s time to change that bad habit, too.

Top 5 Reason For a New Password

  1.  Security
    Did you know the most common password in 2011 was PASSWORD? If that was your password last year, you could be a target for hacking, identity theft, and other bad things that come from having such an obvious password. Plus, you’ll never be able to live it down when people find out you used that password!
  2. Improve your memory
    One of the best ways to improve your memory is to challenge it. What better challenge than trying to remember your new email password after having the same one for years?
  3. It’s fun
    Ok, well, this might not be fun for everyone. But if you like the challenge of changing dozens of passwords (like me), then welcome to the world of OCD/paranoia/fun. By the way, I’m not kidding about having dozens of passwords to change.
  4. Security
    Did I mention how important this is?  While we may want to trade convenience for security, it’s not worth it. In a time of massive data breeches, having a strong password is essential. To help protect yourself when one web site is hacked, you should be using different logins. That way, the bad guys might have your password for Flickr, but not your password for Facebook.
  5. Security
    Really.

So, then, the question is “What’s a strong password?” The strongest password is a series of nonsensical letters and numbers, with special characters for good measure. Here’s an example of a strong password:

3kj4i38uriuienq!iuieq

No one will ever guess that, and it’ll take all the computing power of the world running non-stop to crack it. But you’re not going to be able to remember it. And, if you follow my advice to have a different password for each service, it’s a huge pain. Time to go back to using your dog’s name as a password, right? There’s a better way.

A Great Method For a Great Password

A simple formula:

Your favorite color + the service name + the year = GREAT PASSWORD

It’s just that easy. An example: I like the color red, and I visit Amazon.com in 2012. My password would be

redama2012

Pretty good, but it can be better. If you add some capitalization it’ll be stronger. Throw in a special character while you’re at it:

RedAma2012!

You see, if you create a password from a few memorable elements and add special characters, you get a password that’s very hard to break. The longer, the better. A password like this, with a mix of six letters, four numbers, and a special character would take  a very long time to break.

Now you’ve got a password that I guarantee* will never be hacked. Go forth into 2012 with confidence and a new password!

*Not a guarantee

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