Passwords Part IV: Care and Feeding of Our Passwords

Password Screen

Courtesy MS Clip Art

I am re-posting a series of articles on passwords. Most of us are vulnerable to many and varied threats to our computers, and we must do everything we can to protect against these attacks. The proper use of passwords is essential to be more safe in this incredibly dangerous environment we’re exposed to each time we use the Internet or open an email. Your attention and response to this four part series will arm you against many threats.

If you’ve been following this series of posts on passwords you’ve learned why we need strong passwords, what one should look like, and how to create one.  In this post we’re going to discuss some suggestions on how to protect your passwords. Here’s an excerpt from a Microsoft Corporation article on strong passwords that provides some great suggestions on keeping your passwords secret and what to do if your password is stolen.

Keep your passwords secret

Treat your passwords and pass phrases with as much care as the information that they protect.

Don’t reveal them to others. Keep your passwords hidden from friends or family members (especially children) who could pass them on to other less trustworthy individuals. Passwords that you need to share with others, such as the password to your online banking account that you might share with your spouse, are the only exceptions.

Protect any recorded passwords. Be careful where you store the passwords that you record or write down. Do not leave these records of your passwords anywhere that you would not leave the information that they protect.

Never provide your password over e-mail or based on an e-mail request. Any e-mail that requests your password or requests that you to go to a Web site to verify your password is almost certainly a fraud. This includes requests from a trusted company or individual. E-mail can be intercepted in transit, and e-mail that requests information might not be from the sender it claims. Internet “phishing” scams use fraudulent e-mail messages to entice you into revealing your user names and passwords, steal your identity, and more. Learn more about phishing scams and how to deal with online fraud.

Change your passwords regularly. This can help keep criminals and other malicious users unaware. The strength of your password will help keep it good for a longer time. A password that is shorter than 8 characters should be considered only good for a week or so, while a password that is 14 characters or longer (and follows the other rules outlined above) can be good for several years.

Do not type passwords on computers that you do not control. Computers such as those in Internet cafés, computer labs, shared systems, kiosk systems, conferences, and airport lounges should be considered unsafe for any personal use other than anonymous Internet browsing. Do not use these computers to check online e-mail, chat rooms, bank balances, business mail, or any other account that requires a user name and password. Criminals can purchase keystroke logging devices for very little money and they take only a few moments to install. These devices let malicious users harvest all the information typed on a computer from across the Internet—your passwords and pass phrases are worth as much as the information that they protect.

What to do if your password is stolen

Be sure to monitor all the information you protect with your passwords, such as your monthly financial statements, credit reports, online shopping accounts, and so on. Strong, memorable passwords can help protect you against fraud and identity theft, but there are no guarantees. No matter how strong your password is, if someone breaks into the system that stores it, they will have your password. If you notice any suspicious activity that could indicate that someone has accessed your information, notify authorities as quickly as you can. Get more information on what to do if you think your identity has been stolen or you’ve been similarly defrauded.

Remember, home computing is a blast…keep it productive and enjoyable.

Best regards,



Filed under security

7 responses to “Passwords Part IV: Care and Feeding of Our Passwords

  1. Manmohan Rajyana

    All suggestions are fine; sir strong passwords remembering & that too it is always advised to have different passwords for different sites better keep less money for online purchases & try through Safe Modes like InPrivate, Incogneto of Google; any other methods as suggested by you for online expenditure
    Well I don’t find any at present, and keep reading warnings of authorities on security like you

  2. Pingback: How To Create Safe And Strong Passwords For Email or Website - Cyber Police Station .com

  3. Paul, good to read this wonderful piece. Lot of information needed for a person who uses internet. Thanks for your valued tips and suggestions. I subscribed via email.
    Keeep us inform
    Best Regards,

  4. Pingback: Identity Theft and Internet Security « Paul's Home Computing Blog

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