Shhh…the Secret Password Is…

As a local business owner, you might not spend a lot of time online, but when you are online you want to be as safe and smart about it as you can.

You wouldn’t hand over your business credit card voluntarily to just anyone, right? You lock up your store every night when you leave. And you certainly wouldn’t open your safe and say “have at it” to a stranger! password-397658_1280

It is important that we take our internet safety just as seriously as we do our bank accounts. We don’t want to let people into our websites and online accounts like PayPal or other financial institutions without our permission any more than we would want them climbing into our brick and mortar windows.

One of the best ways to do this is to have strong passwords.

Here are some tips for passwords to avoid:

  • The word “Password”
  • Your birthday or anniversary
  • Your mother’s maiden name (not your wife’s either)
  • Numbers or letters in a sequence
  • The same password for multiple logins
  • Your name, legal or nickname
  • Names or birthdates of your spouse or children

Most sites have specific requirements or limitations on creating a password, so be sure to pay attention to those.

Tips on making a strong password–

  • Have it be at least 8 characters long
  • Use a combination of numbers, upper and lower case letters and at least one special character
  • Try a password generator (although they can be really hard to remember)
  • Think of a sentence that you will remember and use the first letter of each word, adding at least one number and one special character

Keeping it all straight can be a challenge.

Remember to keep track of your passwords and update them periodically. Some sites expire your passwords for you after a set period of time.

There are password managers available, such as Roboform, which are really helpful if you have a lot of passwords to remember. You can download the free version, which is more than enough for most people. It fills in your passwords for you so you don’t have to remember them or worry about typing mistakes on those complicated ones. It is available for Windows, Mac, iPhone & iPad, and for Droids.

Updated June 2016: there is also a business version of Roboform available here.