Thursday, March 19, 2009

Travel and Your Passwords

How often do you change passwords? Once in a while? Sometimes? Never?

In theory, one should change their passwords every 6 months to a year. In practice many never change their passwords because it's just too much trouble, but changing your passwords is one proactive method for protecting your online accounts, financial data and other personal information.


Concerns When You Travel
When you travel, public computers are a great sand trap for keylogger software and spyware. A multitude of users have access to the computer and you never know who's been on it last.

But you're probably thinking that these computers have password controlled access and you have to be a hotel guest to use it. Sure, but web bots can find these systems, or a disreputable user might have a network drive out on the internet that he can access his malware from and install it. For the general user, it seems insurmountable to break a login screen. To the professional, it can be a matter of minutes with the right software.


Travel Security Tips
When you know you're going to travel, change your passwords before hitting the road to online accounts you know you'll be accessing. Change them back when you get home.

If you end up using an account you weren't planning to while you're on the road, change them to something new when you get home.

When you're done using a public machine LOG OFF properly. Don't just close the window with the X in the upper right corner.


What Kind of Passwords to create / use?
When creating passwords, try using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and or symbols with a minimum of 6 characters.

You want to make it as complicated as possible to break while still being able to remember it.

One common piece of advice is don't use things that are related to you: Birthdays, anniversaries, initials, etc..

I create sentences to make my passwords. Today is Monday the 31st or TiMt31st. Ok, that's too many t's, but you get the idea.

It's up to you to create some simple first defense to your sensitive information because if you don't, you only have yourself to blame if someone happens across your unprotected account, and I don't want you regretting any lack of action on your part and saying, I should have listened to Bruce.

It's your financial information online or on your computer. Protect it accordingly.

image: freedigitalphotos.net

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Hi - sorry for the confirmation but I need to weed out the noise from the well intended comments. Thanks for leaving a note... - Bruce