What You Need to Know about Passwords

Saving Passwords

If you aren’t in the habit of saving your passwords, start now and you’ll thank me later.

All I do is keep them in a spreadsheet (tip: it’s not named “passwords”).

My spreadsheet has a column for the internet site, the login name, the password and a column for notes.  Cut and paste the entire URL (with http://) into the spreadsheet and Excel will save the site name as a link. You’ll then be able to click on the URL and go right to the web site.

My spreadsheet is also password protected.  The spreadsheet’s password will be the only password you’ll have to remember.  The rest are saved in the spreadsheet for you to look up any time you need to.  I have a LOT of passwords, so I list the internet sites by categories like banking, email, social networking, et cetera (also see Too Many Passwords? for an easy way to create passwords that you’ll remember.)  This tutorial will help you create password-protected documents for Excel or Word.

What Makes a Good Password?

It’s important to use secure passwords. Ideally,you should also change passwords regularly.

Public Computers and Laptops

You may not have heard of keylogging, but if you use public computers or wireless technology, a criminal could access your data by capturing your keystrokes.  Follow the link to learn more; however, one of the first two suggestions may be all you need to do:

  1. Invest in a good flash drive, like any of Kingston’s which offer urDrive.  If you browse the internet from urDrive your internet activity will be completely protected because it all occurs on the thumb drive.
  2. Install KeyScrambler on your laptop.  It’s free encryption software.
  3. This idea could work in certain situations: purchase a fingerprint reader.  (For instance, I found this reader which can store up to fifteen fingerprints if your office has one computer for multiple users.)

Also, if you are on a public computer, be sure to logout of a site after you are finished. Points 1 and 3 assume that you’re willing, or able, to put a flash drive in the USB port of a public computer.  (I’m not completely sure how I feel about doing that, because of viruses, for one.  Anyone want to weigh in on this?)

Also, do you have any password suggestions to share?  (I had a password-protected spreadsheet for our Christmas gift shopping.  This security measure wouldn’t have worked if the kids had just looked in my closet!)


4 thoughts on “What You Need to Know about Passwords

  1. There is software that will accomplish this task and do so in an even more secure fashion. Lifehacker has a great list of their top 5 – you can use all of them for free and most of them on any platform – http://lifehacker.com/5529133/five-best-password-managers

    Despite what many will tell you about passwords, length is more important than complexity. Many sites will have standards you have to follow – but the shorter a password is, no matter how many different characters you use, the easier it will be to crack. The passphrase idea mentioned in one of the articles you link above is a great idea in this regard. Using words and letters pulled from parts of a bible verse can allow you to build really strong passwords that you can remember.

    Public computers are not secure – never treat them like they are. Any kind of software can be running on them and many keyloggers don’t run as software on the computer at all – there are small devices that can be inserted between the keyboard connector and the back of the computer. If you want to access any sensitive site (bank, email, etc.) I wouldn’t do it on a public machine.

    On your own machine over a public network make sure any sensitive information is sent over https. This isn’t perfect but it’s better than nothing.


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