Top 10 Simple Online Privacy Tricks Anyone Can Do: Tips 1-2

Tips 1 & 2: Passwords and Security Questions

These first two tips go hand-in-hand, so make sure you use them both.  Read on……

 

1. Create Secure, Easy-to-Remember Passwords

Secure passwords are the best, but not if you can’t remember them.  Most of you already know this, but are you implementing it?  There are a lot of tricks to creating easy, memorable passwords without making them easy to guess.  You can research this on Google, but I’ll give you a few ideas.

1)  Don’t use the same password for every website, especially banking sites.

2)  Alternate UPPER and lower-case letters, as passwords are case-sensitive.

3)  Use special characters, such as #,%,@, or !. Either add them or replace a letter with one of these characters.

4) Use a common base password (like a pet’s name), then add pattern of numbers that means something to you (like your kids’ birthdays).  Or perhaps add the initials of the website it’s for.

Example:  If your cat’s name is Muffy, your kid was born in 1964 and the password is for Yahoo Mail, you can use MuFFy1964YM.  For a Wells Fargo password, say your birthday is May 5, 1945.  You can use MuFFy1945WF.  Get the picture?

5)  Shift your fingers up one row and to the right (or the left, since they don’t quite line up) on the keyboard from the actual letter you want.  For instance, instead of “muffy“, type k8tt7.  Use whatever rule you want, but stick with one rule, so you don’t get confused.

 

2. Security Questions.  Keep them as Private as Your Passwords

Strong passwords are important, but they’re useless if your security question is something anyone can answer.  Most websites have ways to recover or reset your password if you forget it by using security questions, also known as “challenge questions”.  When you answer these correctly, the site lets you change your password, or will email it to you.  What would happen if a hacker, coworker, your kid, or an angry “ex” knew the answer to this question?  I shudder to think!

Instead of going the traditional security question route, you could use a formula to create a memorable, yet indecipherable security question.  For instance, you could use word association to make the question easy for you, but hard for others, for example:

  • “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” could be answered with your favorite Iron Maiden album instead.
  • Put in your mother’s birthplace when the question asks for your birthplace.  Get the picture?

Here’s another trick, but it’s not available on all websites.  Some sites let you create your own privacy questions.  If they do, definitely go for this option, as it opens up a whole world of options.

2. Create Secure, Easy-to-Remember Passwords