Secure Passwords Transcript

Often, there is really only one thing standing between your sensitive information and criminals: your password. If they get it, they can get into banks accounts and private files, and wreak havoc. For this reason, it's important to know what makes a password strong and secure.

Chances are, you use passwords everyday. To open your computer, to log into your favorite websites, to get work done. The easy route is to have a simple password that works everywhere. Unfortunately, this can be a problem. Criminals are very good at guessing passwords. Some have computer programs that can make millions of guesses until something works. And if they already know information about you, it's even easier. Your job is to create a password that is very hard to guess. Here's how:

Your first thought may be to use a pet's name, a birthdate, an address or parts of a phone number. These things are too easy for criminals to discover, so don't use them. Your password should not include info about you.

Thankfully, there are ways to have memorable, but hard-to-guess passwords. Consider this: In addition to single words, phrases can also be easy to remember. Maybe it's a favorite song lyric, or quote. An example is "Jack and Jill Went Up The Hill" That's easy to remember, right?

Well, your password is there - it's the first letter of each word. In this example, this would be your password. That's not something that is easily guessed. Here's why. First - it's not in the dictionary. This makes guessing it harder. There are about 60,000 words in English. A computer can test out those words pretty quickly, so don't use them.

But there's more. This password could still be stronger by adding upper case letters, numbers or special characters. So now this is a very strong password - but there's still a risk.

If you write it down, be careful where you keep it. And be aware that someone can look over your shoulder or find it in your trash. Giving it to loved-ones is also risky - they may not be as cautious as you are. Only you should know your password.

Criminals may also try to fool you into handing it over via phone calls. Never tell anyone your password over the phone. And be careful when you get an email that asks for a password - it could be a scam.To help avoid problems, don't use the same password everywhere that's like having one key that unlocks everything you own. The stakes are high if you lose it.

Also, be careful if you use a computer that is not yours. Let's say you check email using a computer in a store, library or computer lab. You login, check email and walk away. The next person to use that computer now has access to your email account and all the information in it. Always remember to log out of each site you visit on a computer that isn't yours.

Passwords are an essential part of life online - and if we're not careful about keeping them secret, they can cause big problems. By understanding the risks and making passwords stronger, we can feel a little more secure.

Date modified: