Hi, my name is Miranda Gilbert, and I’m going to be talking today about creating safe passwords.

Why are safe passwords so important?

Well, so much of the work that we do today, from everyday banking to our taxes, to emailing important information, is done online, and so it’s important to have safe and strong passwords so that you can keep your identity safe.

What could actually go wrong if you don’t have safe passwords?

Well, it can result in things like identity theft, viruses, and malware to your computers, your laptop, your phone. You could also have account breaches on your banking or important websites that you use that may need your identification. You could also have somebody break into your email, and therefore, if they broke into your email, you could kind of head down a path where they could get into access to all kinds of things.

Mistakes in Passwords

  • Commonly used passwords
  • Passwords with words from the dictionary
  • Passwords with numbers from your identity
  • Passwords using names of your relatives

This is a report of the latest passwords, the most commonly used passwords in 2020. And as you can see right here, this list of passwords is pretty poor. In fact, if you see your password or a password you use a lot on this list, please go and change it right away. This is just kind of a example of why it’s so important to have strong passwords, because there are lists out here that people use to try to break into your accounts, and these are some of the top ones that are used most commonly. Things that also make bad passwords are words that are in the dictionary. Now that might seem really vague and strange, but some of these cyber criminals can actually use dictionary software to start guessing your password. So words that are used in the dictionary, spelled correctly, may be used to try to gain access to your account. Numbers that have your identity in them, such as your birthday, your social security, your anniversary, those are bad numbers to use in your passwords. Why? Because people that don’t know you very well may know that your birthday is a password. So you could have the word password, and let’s say you were born in August third, you know, 0803 might be one of the things that you use for your password. So numbers like that that are kind of tied to your identity are not good to have, to use for your passwords. Also, names of family members are not good to use for passwords. Again, it’s because people may know you vaguely or be able to even just quick internet search, find out the name of your spouse, the name of your dog, the name of your kids or grandkids, and use those to try to gain access to your accounts.

Fun Techniques to Create Safe Passwords

Now, it’s not all bad news. At this point in the webinar, people are often like, “Oh my God, “she’s harping about how bad everything is, “and all the passwords, they’re just, “my passwords are all bad.” Well, it’s not all bad. Creating safe passwords can be easy and fun, and I’m gonna show you some techniques about how you can create a password that’s very difficult to break. Now, before I move on, I should let you know that no password that you create is 100% foolproof, and you still have to take some certain safety precautions, but the techniques I’m going to teach you will help you create safer passwords so that you can feel more secure online. So one of the most important tips I can give you is that make sure that your password is at least 10 characters, that you use both letters, numbers, and special characters, such as the at symbol or punctuation marks or hashtags, or something of that nature, and use both upper and lower case letters. Here is one other tool. Purposely misspell words. Now remember back a couple slides ago, when I said one of the tools that cyber criminals use is words that are in the dictionary. So this here is an example of a bad password, is pineapple. That’s just a word that’s in the dictionary, and it can be easily cracked. A better password would be pineapple75! with an exclamation point. Now that’s a medium strength password, but it’s still not great because it’s still a word that’s used in the dictionary. The capital letter P is good, 75, and the exclamation point. But a better example, and the best example here, would be to use some symbols in there mixed in. So pineapple, you’ve got the small P, but then you’ve replaced the I with the number one, and you’ve replaced the letter A with the at symbol, 75, and then the exclamation point. Now, 75, where’d I come up with that number? I dunno, maybe you went to Hawaii in 1975, and that’s just something random that not very many people would know. It’s not my anniversary day, it’s not my birthday, it’s just some random number. Maybe it was my football number in college or something, who knows? But it’s not, like, an anniversary date, or a birthday or anything like that, so that’s just one example. You can replace letters with symbols, like I did in the last example. Zero is a good one to use in place of O. You can also use the number five in place of S, or the at symbol in place of the letter A. Number one is easily replaced for the letter I, or in some cases, L. If your password is a phrase, like perhaps “Miranda for president”, you could replace the word for with the number four, so that might be one way you could do it. Oftentimes when people have to change their password often, like perhaps your banking account requires you to change your password every month. That’s a lot, that’s 12 passwords a year. What I like to do in cases like that is to pick an overall theme, something that’s very visual that you can picture in your mind, and you can use every month, so if you have to change it often. Flowers is a great example, because a flower is very easy. I can easily picture in my mind a daisy, and I know that the daisy is orange, and it, you know, I can just easily picture an orange daisy in my head. So something I could do there is I could use the password, I could use daisy, for example, but I could replace the letter A with the at symbol, and I could put a number in there, any number that makes me think of a daisy. But I picture it in my head, and that actually, that technique, can help you remember the password. And again, something you can visualize. So pineapple is one I go back to a lot, of course, but pineapples are yellow. You maybe visited Hawaii in 1975. The number one looks like an I, and the at symbol looks like an A, so that simple password we used before, that pineapple75, that now becomes P, number one, N-E, at sign, P-P-L-E, and then Y, because pineapples are yellow, capital Y, and 75, because I happened to visit Hawaii in 1975. So you can see how something so simple now has become a more complex combination of letters and numbers that will help you with a more secure password that you can actually remember. So, this is my favorite trick. It’s to make a phrase into a password. Now, take a look at the image here and see if you can come up with how I got to this particular password that you see up here. This is the password. Think about how I got to that. I’ll give you just a second. Okay, so this is how I got to it. The hills are alive with the sound of music. Now, I know y’all have that in your head right now, ’cause you’ve been thinking about it, so you’re all singing it now. The hills are alive, T-H-A. And I replaced one of the A’s with the at symbol. W-T, sound of music. So what I did here, I capital S, I used the, I know it’s hard to tell the difference, but I used a zero for of, and then music, capital M. So the hills are alive with the sound of music, that just became my password. So another example here. These are really fun, but they do take a little bit of practice. Okay, this one’s a tough one. Go ahead and think about it. Okay, now you all have Rhett Butler in your head. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. So here we go. I capitalized frankly, just because, but I did the F-M-D, and instead of I, I used a number one, and again, I used the at symbol in the case of I don’t give a damn So it’s frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. And that becomes what looks like a completely random password. Let’s do one more here. This one’s a little bit tough, so think about this one here. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. So here we go. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. I replaced the I in in with a number one, and Spain is a capital because it’s the capital, it’s Spain. And on the plain, I used a zero instead of an O. So what, again, this looks like a seemingly random password, but I just used a phrase that I can easily remember, the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. Now here’s one you’re never gonna guess, but just take a look here. Here’s how I came up with this password. Yes, it’s a list of grandchildren, and we are, what we did is Mary, Bobby, Jimmy, Nathan, and Fred, I took all their names and their first letter, but I replaced one of the letters in their names in some cases. So Mary became capital M, at sign. Bobby became capital B, zero. Jimmy, capital J, number one. Nathan, capital N, at symbol. And Fred, well, he’s just capital F, small R. So I met all the requirements of symbols and numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters with this, so that’s a nice password to use, too. The other tool that I would recommend is to make sure and use different passwords for all your accounts across the internet. Don’t use the same password on every website that you visit. Don’t use the same password for Facebook as you use for your bank account or your tax returns. Use different passwords across all the internet. Now, I know your mind just went, . Don’t be worried, because there is some techniques to be able to keep track of all these passwords. The reason why I don’t want you to use the same password across every website is if one password becomes compromised, if I use the same password from everywhere and that gets compromised, in other words, somebody gets that password that isn’t, means that every website that I use that password on could be vulnerable now. But if I use a different password for every website, then I only have, if that one password becomes compromised, then I can go and just change that one website and I don’t have to worry about the others.

Keeping Track of Passwords

There are some online tools for storing passwords, and these are some of the examples here that I have. One is LastPass The other is the Norton Password Manager. There are several others out there. Go ahead and ask around. See if anybody uses these. These are online tools for storing your passwords that you can use. But my honestly, my favorite technique is to use a physical copy, a physical copy of your passwords written down in a notebook or a piece of paper with what website they belong to. The reason why this is a safe way is that somebody would have to physically get this copy in order to compromise your accounts. Now, don’t take this physical copy with you places. Don’t put it in your purse, don’t put it into your car. Leave this in a safe place in your home. Therefore somebody would have to break into your home or have physical access to your home in order to get this passwords. Now, definitely, definitely, don’t store a physical copy of your passwords under the keyboard, on a sticky note, near your computer or in your top desk drawer. If somebody is looking for a password into your computer or something of that nature, that’s the first place they’re going to look. And I will tell you, too, that don’t share your passwords with anyone over the phone or via email. Nobody should ever have to call you and ask you for a password or email you and ask you for a password. You should be able to talk to that person by you calling them, or, you know, in some case that they would, you might email it to them if it was somebody fixing your computer or something of that nature, but nobody will ever call you and need your password. If it’s the bank or something like that, they don’t need that. You don’t need you to tell you, tell your password to them in order to access your account. So if you do share your password with someone like a computer repair person, change it after they’re done. And as a former computer repair person, I am grateful when people change their password after I leave because I don’t want the keys to the building. So it is okay. You’re not gonna hurt anybody’s feeling if you change your password after somebody leaves. So that is really the safest thing that you can do. So that is the last tip that I have for you today on how to create and remember safe and secure passwords online. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thank you.