Monday, August 12, 2013

So many passwords, so little time....

Takeaway: There are lots of platforms that will require a password, figure out a system for yourself to keep them all straight, and use single-sign in options when possible...

Facebook, Twitter, personal email, work email, online banking.... The amount of digital accounts we seem to have these days is at times overwhelming. How do we keep track of all the accounts and passwords and stay safe and secure?

Here are a few things I do, and often recommend to colleagues...

Keep all personal accounts & professional accounts separate. If you keep everything under one or the other you might run in to problems if your change jobs, your personal email gets hacked, etc
  • Do not mix/match/co-mingle usernames & passwords

Banking - keep it unique from all other. Nothing worse than losing funds because your checking account uses the same password as your Facebook account...

Use simple login options when possible

  • "Log in with Twitter" or "Log in with "Facebook" - most of my social media activity is centered around Twitter so related accounts such as Klout, Kred, HuffingtonPost, etc all use Twitter authentication - save a ton of time & the hassle of having to remember so many different passwords.
  • Similarly, if you are a Google user and center your online life around a single Google account you only have to remember a single password for your email, social network (Google+), Blogger blog, etc. In addition, many sites accept Google authentication as sign-on.

Create a password scheme. For instance, your employer requires you to change your password every 90 days and always be unique. Try:
  • Pa$$w0rdFALL - no, don't actually use this, but use it as a template 
    • the "P" "$$" and "0" are simple ways to satisfy common requirements of capital letters, unique characters, and numbers while still being in an easy to remember format. 
    • The "FALL" is the personalized identifier for you to remember. The next time you have to change your password change "FALL" to "SPRING" (Pa$$w0rdSPRING) for a new, easy to remember, unique password
  • You can also use this technique with service initials:
    • Pa$$w0rdTW - Twitter
    • Pa$$w0rdFB - Facebook
    • Pa$$w0rdDG - Diigo

Keeping it straight
  • If you use a common username for all your personal accounts and a different common username for all professional accounts you will only have to remember 2 usernames.
  • If you use a personal password scheme and a professional password scheme you'll only have to remember 2 passwords 
  • Have 2 additional passwords, unrelated to any schemes
    • Your primary email - don't want that hacked as it's usually the way you retrieve & reset other account's passwords
    • Your bank account - keep those funds secure
  • Use commonly accepted login options such as logging in with a social media account or a Google account to simplify the amount of services requiring unique usernames & passwords

How I do it
  • Twitter authentication whenever possible for work-related social media platforms
  • Unique password scheme for my personal email account
  • Personal email account username is a format not shared by any other service I use
  • Unique password scheme for my work account
  • Use Google, and Google authentication as much as possible 
Doing this I have to remember
  • 1 personal email name & password
  • 1 password scheme for personal social media
  • 1 work email password scheme
  • 1 Twitter password
  • 1 Google username & password
5 passwords isn't too bad to manage...
... and my wife handles the banking so all I have to remember is my ATM pin...

There are a lot of accounts & passwords out there. Find a system for yourself that will be easy to remember but at the same time unique ensures you both retain access to your accounts as well as keep them secure.

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