Tech Tip Tuesday: Secure Your Passwords!

by Kristie Burk

I am not going to name names, but the other day a teacher opened a laptop in front of me. Inside the laptop was a taped piece of paper that contained her passwords!  Ouch.

Password security is very important, especially for educators. There is just too much sensitive information that it is our duty to protect.

Your first line of defense is your password, of course.  Over the years, hackers have gotten increasingly smarter, so we need to be even more careful with how we choose our passwords.

Ask yourself the following questions regarding the passwords that you use:

  • Have you changed your password in the last six months?  I’m required to change my password for my graduate program at Johns Hopkins every two months.
  • Do you use the same password in multiple places? This one is considered a big no-no.  If someone maliciously gets your password, you don’t want him or her to be able to use it in more than one place!
  • Do you use any part of your username in your password? This repetition makes it a little too easy on the hacker.
  • Does your password start with a capital letter? Spell a word? End with a special character? Contain a date?  These are the most common patterns in passwords. Try putting the capitals, numbers and special characters inside the letters.  For example, instead of using Flipburgers23!, you can write fL2ibp3bu!s.  
  • Have you password-protected your phone? I am always surprised when I see people’s phones that are not password-protected. There is so much information available there – your contacts, email, photos, financial information, etc. Lock it down!

Of course, you have to remember these passwords.  You can always use a password manager like Roboform. If you decide to write the passwords down on paper, just don’t stick the paper to your laptop.



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