As an IT manager, I store other people’s passwords the way a more social person might remember birthdays or phone numbers. This affords me a bit of notoriety as a computer genius whenever the people I work with forget their passwords and have to call me to help them log in once again.
Truthfully, though, I know exactly why people have such a hard time remembering what passwords they’ve used – everything you do on a digital device these days requires you to enter a password and so many people fall into the trap of trying to create a new p.w. for everything.
Stop. I’m going to make your life much simpler.
You only need four passwords total. And you don’t have to compromise security to keep your sanity. Just follow my guidelines:
Level One – This is an extremely secure password that you will use only for financial purposes (online banking, Paypal, etc.). Expend some effort coming up with something unique here, but keep it memorable, as you will never write this down or repeat it to anyone! But again, you only use it on the websites that pertain to money. If you ever suspect this has been compromised, immediately change this password everywhere you are using it – and change them all to the same new password.
Level Two – This password can be used for all the other sites that you care about security on. Definitely use this for other sites that store your credit card info (eBay, Amazon, School stores, Department stores), as they will be applying their own security to keeping your financial info hidden, but it is possible for someone with access to this account to make purchases. Whether you share this p.w. is up to you – personally, I share this one out with my immediate family.
I also recommend using this for any private e-mail accounts.
Social media is the tricky part. In my world, these call for a level 4 p.w., but that’s because my life won’t end if someone were to toss out a few Tweets under my account. If you must put your Facebook account in the Level 2 category, I won’t judge you.
Level Three – Anyone who needs a password for work or school should have a level two password. Your company will dictate how strong this one is and there will be people you’ll need to share it with. The important thing here is to resist the temptation to use one of your personal passwords.
I’ll give you a few good reasons not to do this:
1) You’ll just set yourself up for frustration when your company makes you alter your p.w. every year
2) You really shouldn’t trust the IT people you work with that much. I mean it – I’ve known some truly unscrupulous IT people who’ve made it a sport to hack into people’s personal information. |
3. And on behalf of the rest of us in the IT world, we’d rather you keep your work password separate so that we don’t have to worry about ruining your personal life if the company servers get compromised.
Level Four – Here we get to the throw-away password. Contrary to my earlier rules, go right ahead and use your middle name for this one. Why not? This one is for all the millions of sites, apps, etc. that hound you for a p.w. even though there is nothing you’ll enter that needs to be secured: free download sites, games, newspapers, libraries, the e-mail app that the weather channel offers …
Why do these freebie sites insist on plaguing us with passwords? I can’t fathom the answer, but we’ll no longer be their puppets, will we? Give them your go-to password and you’ll never need to think about it again.