Take your Cloud Computing Security to a whole new Level
We all have one; that secret file on your computer or a cheat sheet in your journal that reminds you of the plethora of login names and passwords you have. You know that this is no way to organize business data and what the consequences are if someone were to find your secret stash, but how are you supposed to remember all those pesky passwords? Recent high-profiles hacking of cloud databases, personal identity theft and the constantly evolving sophistication of hackers themselves necessitate the creation of increasingly complex passwords. If you’re living in a world where ‘12345’ just won’t cut it, then fear not, there are ways in which to create uncrackable passwords that you can actually remember without your cheat sheet.
Avoid common password mistakes
Do not use the same password for all your online applications or daisy-chain your online applications together. If someone manages to get into your email, they should not then have access to your other online applications or devices. Utilize two-step security for your email and bank accounts where possible.
Don’t use anything associated with you personally like the names of family members or pets, dates or your children’s names either. In fact, for high-level security online applications or devices don’t use dictionary words at all. Passwords should be like underwear; change them often and don’t leave them lying around for others to see. If your password is ‘password’, then perhaps the internet is not for you!
Let’s call this first method mnemonics as it utilizes your old study technique of making sentences to remember a list of names. Use the same thinking you did when you remembered the word PRONC to represent the parts of the eye (cornea, pupil, retina and the optic nerve in case you were wondering), but this time, start with a sentence. In our example I will make a password for my TrackVia account. When I log on to their site, I see the words: ‘TrackVia Application Builder for Business People…Zero Programming’ every time I open the Trackvia site, so I won’t have to remember this sentence.
Now take the first letter from each word to get Tabfbpzp. Choose a sentence from the site for which you are creating a password. The sentence should consist of at least eight words; twelve to twenty words are even better! Don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to sentences from the target website, use famous quotes, lines of poetry and song lyrics with equally wild abandon.
With the Mnemonics method, the letter ‘a’ is replaced with @,‘s’ with $, ‘i’ with !, ‘e’ with 3 and ‘o’ with 0. This means that your new password will be T@bfbpzp. It’s important to include symbols and caps, so keep the caps in wherever you find them. You also need to add symbols or numbers to improve the efficacy of this method. Here feel free to use a birthday or anniversary dates appended to the end of the password or place a number from your date between each letter.
Fancy Finger Method
Let your fingers do the walking across your keyboard if your muscle memory is better than your long-term memory. Here you need to work out a little track for your fingers to follow as you dosey doe your way across the keyboard. For example, you could use the all the keys that surround the ‘o’ to get olp0)9(ik, or every third letter starting from the top left to get eyo]dhlcn.
Muscle memory is a great way to help you to remember very complex keywords without actually memorizing the letters and symbols they consist of. Not actually remembering your own keyword is a great way to ensure that you don’t let it slip to someone else or write it down where potential hackers can have at it.
When you Absolutely Have to use Words
If you remain unconvinced and simply don’t see yourself implementing any of these methods, then you can still use a dictionary word or name, but with a twist. For example, if you want to use the name of your favorite movie star, then Daniel Craig is fine; just spell it backward and use your coding so you get g!@rCl3!n@D. The longer the word, the stronger your password will be.
You can even use the same password for each site, with a little variation of course. So if you are using your Daniel Craig password to access your online database, then you would add an ‘od’ to the end. Make them caps to up the ante so you get g!@rCl3!n@DOD. If you are going to access your Facebook account, you’ll use g!@rCl3!n@DFB.
If you don’t trust yourself to create and remember complex passwords, then you can get online software that does this for you. Ask a password generator to create strong passwords that contain symbols, letters and numbers. Of course you still have to remember these and with no personal references, that could be difficult to do. Some of these generators send the passwords over the internet which means that hackers can intercept these passwords with software such as Wireshark.
An option for those who have a long list of passwords is to save these in a document which you place in a secure (you guessed it!), password protected file.
Test your Password
If you are concerned about the safety of your online databases, personal information and bank accounts, then test your passwords to make sure that they are strong enough. You can visit sites like ‘How secure is my password’ to see if your choice measures up. We put our passwords through their paces to see how they would measure up:
When we went with the old ‘password’ we got this analysis: Your password is very commonly used. It would be cracked almost instantly.
So we tried our Daniel Craig for Facebook instead: g!@rCl3!n@DFB: It would take a desktop PC about 26 million years to crack your password… Yes!
Whatever your personal preference in passwords, it is imperative that you change them regularly and avoid using the same password for accounts of great import. When it comes to internet security, common sense reigns supreme, so use yours! Don’t write your passwords down or leave them lying around and avoid using personal information to create your passwords in the first place. As hackers become more sophisticated in their ability to steal your information, you have to evolve to meet that challenge.