Welcome to the latest installment in my newsletter where I share tech tips, news, and other info you can use to advance your author career.

Today I would like to talk to you about passwords.

Got a Bad Case of Password Exhaustion?

 

You’re not alone! Most people use the same password everywhere – home, work, Gmail, Facebook… even for banking.

Considering how many passwords we’re expected to remember and use on a daily basis, password exhaustion is a very real thing. It’s no wonder that when yet another prompt for a password appears, users enter easily guessed combinations like ‘abcd’ or ‘password’.

Trouble is, even if your password is making the required effort, hackers are taking a daily stroll around the internet and collecting logins and passwords as they go, from either troves of credentials leaked in past hacks or freshly stolen from sites with security flaws.

Even the big names in tech are at risk of password breaches:

Over 540 million Facebook records found on exposed AWS servers

360 million MySpace emails and passwords leaked.

Dropbox data breach: 68 million user account details leaked

Once the hackers have a set of credentials, they’ll try their luck with that login/password elsewhere. They know that many internet users in the world will reuse a password and email combination on more than one site, so the chance of gaining access to an account on site B using credentials stolen from site A is actually quite good. For example, password reuse was very likely how hackers compromised multiple Createspace accounts last year.

Same password used elsewhere? Cue the domino effect!

One site breach follows another and another until hackers have nothing more to gain. The only way to break this chain reaction is to use a different password for each site.

How to Create Easily Remembered Passwords

 

The best way to come up with passwords that are both unique and secure is to develop a system or template for creating your own unique passwords. The system needs to follow a pattern you will remember, but is not obvious to hackers.

For example, one of my tricks is to use passwords that make oblique references to pets we used to have years and decades ago. I don't use the pet's name but instead refer to them in a way that not even my mother or siblings would recognize, but which I can easily remember.

XKCD has their own recommendation for coming up with a unique and secure password:

What to Do If Your Password Has Been Hacked

 

You can check to see if any of your accounts have been compromised by entering your email into a site like haveibeenpwned.com

If it alerts a breach, you need to change your passwords immediately – all of them. Use the example system above to create a new set. If you’re struggling to remember your set of passwords, consider using a secure password tracker such as LastPass. (http://www.lastpass.com)

The Digital Reader

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