Sunday, September 20, 2015

Passwords

I've written before about how most online passwords don't really need to be as secure as they are. A few things have changed since then. Even more sites require super strong passwords. Two-step verification for Gmail is an excellent idea, but OMG what a fucking hassle. More sites won't let your browser save the password for you.

Most significantly, I no longer store my passwords on an electronic device. My phone could get stolen, or my desktop computer could be accessed remotely and someone could get my passwords from my phone's backup. And some people backup their phones to the cloud, which could be hacked.

These days the most secure place to store your passwords is on an index card on in a notebook you keep near your computer. With a second copy in your wallet for when you need to log into something away from home.

But what if my wallet gets stolen?! Your passwords will still be secure if you write down your passwords in code. If your password is Skippy1, write down Sk1. It'll be enough for you to remember what the password is, but not enough for anyone else to guess.

Even better, come up with passwords that you're sure to remember. Which yeah, I know. But it's a lot easier to remember if your password is a phrase. It's also a lot harder for software to guess your password if it's a phrase.

When His Awesomeness set up our home wi-fi network, he gave it the most ridiculous password. Here's an example password that uses similar logic:

'2+2=5'sezyersillyCousinButch!

It includes a math equation, funny spellings and punctuation. It's pretty long, but that's OK as long as there's no maximum number of characters requirement. It satisfies the requirements for at least one capital letter, one number and one special character. I've only had to look it up twice, maybe 3 times and that's mostly because I couldn't remember if it included quotation marks.

Or could use a phrase that replaces some letters with numbers and special characters, like:

Yermommawearsc0mbatboots'causeshe'saMarine!

With spaces so you can actually read it: 

Yer momma wears c0mbat boots 'cause she's a Marine!

These will take a few tries to memorize, but remember - you can write down a reminder, like "Cousin Butch" or "combat boots". Then write down the full password and put it in a different room, or in a locked drawer. For your banking sites, consider keeping your passwords with the other info your loved ones will need if you die or become sick.

Digression the first - when my dad was hospitalized (and totally out of it) last year, my mother couldn't pay the bills because all the bills were paperless and e-mailed to his account. Without his password, she couldn't log on to his computer to pay the bills. Fortunately, my brother was able to figure it out before anything was past due. Still, she really didn't need that stress on top of everything else.

Also, you know how it's a huge hassle to call the cable company because it's in, say HA's name but I'm the one home all day, so I should be the one making the service appointment? Just to pick an example entirely not at random. It's an even bigger hassle when someone dies. 

"I need to speak to the account holder."
"They died."
"I need to speak to the account holder."

If HA dies before me, it will probably be easier for me to close his bank accounts than to switch the cable over to my name. And if I go first, he'll have a hell of a time dealing with the cell phone company.

So while you're creating the folder of info your loved ones need, make a few calls and make each other authorized users (if applicable and if allowed). With money, maybe add a sibling or friend to your account so they can access your money in an emergency. Spouses are great in theory, but we all know couple who split up after one of them cleaned out the joint account so trust, but protect your life savings.

Don't feel too bad if you don't have a folder like that. I started a binder with info about my different retirement accounts, but ran out of steam pretty quickly because migraines. Hell, I still have some accounts in my unmarried name because I haven't gotten around to changing it in the last almost 8 years. 

Digression the second - I loathe the expression "maiden name". Traditionally and literally, "maiden" means virgin, which ew. Also, "maiden name' sounds like the name I was living under while working as a milkmaid in Switzerland. 

But I digress. Not every site lets you create a long password. So just use a short phrase. (Using just the initials of a longer phrase isn't memorable because you have to remember the phrase, while converting into an acronym.) Just 2-3 words can keep you within the character limit. 

Examples:

IH8Passwords (i.e. I Hate Passwords)
FuckTh!s
StoopidPupp1es

I'm not actually anti-puppy, but creating strong passwords makes me surly.

What's your favorite password trick?

1 comment:

  1. I love using LastPass. It's sure safe, and makes life easy! Some funny passwords here for sure!

    ReplyDelete

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