Password Security Tips

After Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email account got hacked, I have been asked for tips for online password security. Here are my basic tips:

  • Don’t use your email password on other websites
  • Turn off network/file sharing on your laptop while traveling
  • Password tips
    • Do not use your address
    • Do not use dictionary words
    • Do not use yours or a family members name
    • Do not use your birthdate, anniversary date, etc.
    • Use a mix of Upper and Lower case letters
    • Replace vowels with numbers (not all of them)
      • 1 for i
      • 0 for o
      • 3 for e
      • 4 for a
    • Add a number to the end of the password
    • Make it at least 8 characters long
  • Password Suggestions
    • Use the first letter of each word of your favorite book
    • Use the first letter of each word of a famous quote
    • Take part of 2 words and put them together, like the first 4 letters of a childhood nickname and the last 4 of your pets name
  • Change your password every 30-45 days

UPDATE: This section was added since the revelation that the security questions were used to reset the password. The are tips to help with security questions.

  • Always create a custom question if available
  • DO NOT use information that is public knowledge, like birth city or your home town.
  • Most sites allow multiple questions, if so mix up the answers, i.e. use the answer for question 2 for question 1, etc.
  • Add a number sequence to your answer
  • Gov. Palin used her high school name for where she met her spouse. This was easy to guess since it was public knowledge. A suggestion for this would be to use something like the time of day, or the exact date instead.

You want to make the security questions difficult to guess while easy to remember. It’s your life so you know the details, use them to protect yourself. Generalities will leave you vulnerable.

Hope this helps you and always be very careful online. Remember, if you put it online, there is virtually no way to be 100% safe from prying eyes.