Unforgettable, Unguessable Passwords Fight ID Theft

For better or worse, life has moved online. While people still live and breathe outside the digital setting, banking, shopping, dating, socializing and more all happens on the Web and, often, behind a wall of security. But how simple is it for hackers and identity thieves hop over that wall? In many cases, it’s all too easy, but users can make it harder to scale by creating-and remembering-uniquely hard-to-hack passwords.

Identifying information is all over the Internet, and identity thieves do everything they can to get what they need. While the average spam email packed with poor grammar isn’t too hard to spot, hackers are savvy. The public needs to be as well, in order to keep data safe. Follow these tips to ensure that passwords provide the security necessary to protect your identity.

• Don’t use the same passwords across the Web. Having the same password for online banking, Facebook, professional and hobby organizations is asking for trouble. Make each password different, and if necessary, cleverly work part of the website name into the password. For instance, add the last four letters of the site or company name somewhere within the password. Associating the site with the password will make that latter more memorable.

• Know what thieves know-the most common passwords. Thieves love easy-to-hack passwords, and people often make it all too simple for them. Names spelled backwards, birth dates, pets’ names, or phone numbers are highly common and easily breakable choices for passwords. Either avoid them or get creative with them (such as typing one row up, in which “kip” becomes “i80″). It’s a quick way to put a unique spin on a password that’s hard to forget.

• Make a password template. If all passwords follow a format, but contain different characters, it’s a surefire way to make memorable passwords that are hard to guess. A certain number of letters, followed by a special character (like a dash or pound sign), then followed by a group of numbers is just one example; UIO#1206 or SJO#0817 both follow the same format, but could be used for different sites. Just make sure that the letters and numbers are meaningful enough to be memorable – a mother’s initials followed by the date of a marriage proposal, for instance.

Keeping your identity secure can be a tricky business, but making the effort will help prevent identity thieves from breaching your online life.

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