The password for your email is the most important password you use. If Mr Hacker works out what your email password is, he will be able to get all your other passwords because all he does is goes to the other web site (Facebook, your bank, your work, or what ever) and clicks on the ‘forgot password’ link. Have you forgotten a password in the past? What happened when you clicked that link? You got an email with a link to click that allowed you to reset your password, or it gave you a temporary password. That’s what Mr Hacker is going to try.
I note here that many sites are now asking you for a lot more information like mothers maiden name, town you where born in etc. They do that because of the security issue with email passwords, but it opens up a whole lot of other issues as that info is out there in the Internet waiting for Mr Hacker to get it and then use it to steal your or my identity. Think about what happens when you go to a bank. Often they ask for your mothers maiden name or other things similar. If Mr Hacker has got that info from a site he hacked, mmmm…. But that is a whole other story.
So some rules to follow to help avoid Mr Hacker mucking with you:
- Never use your email password for anything else
Make sure your email password is very hard to guess. Hopefully the rest of this article will help you with this.
- Don’t share the password with anyone.
- If you have to write it down to remember, either write it in some form of code and store it in a secure place. (Don’t write it on a piece of paper with something like “My email password” or worse still “password for firstname.lastname@example.org”)
To help you create something you are likely to remember, but no one else would be able to guess:
Use a phrase. Do you have a favorite actor? Lets say it’s Bob Hope. Consider the password: I-like-Bob-Hope-2 which has a combination of upper case, lower case, numbers, and other characters and is longer than 12 characters. (Don’t use this password, it wont work cause it’s published.)
This password has a structure. You can make up a structure where in this case it uses the – as the space between the words. You start a sentence with an upper case letter same as when you write a name. You could be really clever and decide your passwords will have the second letter of each word as capital but the rest lower case. Trick to remembering is you always use the same structure rules and you keep that secret.
We talked about favorite actor, but what about your favorite car, or singer, or friend. What about something completely different like My:next:holiday:is:2:Fiji or mArk,aNd,mE,4,eVer. Notice they have a structure that can be remembered as a phrase. A lot easier and while there is never a guarantee, you have a pretty good chance that Mr Hacker is not going to crack your email and cause you a whole lot of pain.