Safer Passwords

Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 07:46 PM – Tips and Hints

The cheaters and hackers get more devious each day, so it is important that you get more devious than they are if possible. One way is to try and have strong passwords. There are software applications out there that run words at thousands a minute looking for passwords to get into your system or a site where you have conducted business. Therefore, you should not use easy to detect words as passwords. You should always use a combination of words and numbers if possible.

I know it can be hard to remember odd combinations, particularly when sites ask for specific kinds of combinations, but one tip is to take words or phrases that you can remember and substitute numbers for some of the letters. A spider searching at random is probably not going to find that, but you will probably be able to remember it.

And for goodness sake, please don’t do what a friend of mind did — don’t put all your passwords on a sticky on the side of your computer. When her laptop was stolen all her passwords were right there for the thief as well.

Use Keychain to store passwords and require a secure password to get into keychain. Keychain is a utility built into your operating system. You can find it at Applications > Utilities > Keychain Access.

Click on the + sign in the bottom of the window to add a new entry. I use Keychain to keep up with all my passwords, registration codes, bank passwords, and anything else that is important.

Here is something else you can do if you are concerned about security. Require a password to wake your computer. From the Apple menu select Preferences > Security > General. Put a check in the box next to “Require a password to wake this computer…”.

One last tip. Whenever you visit a web site that requires a password to access it, such as your bank or credit card site, close your browser as soon as you exit the site. You can open it right back up, but closing it means you leave no trail for any nasty spider that might be hunting for information.


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