Changing Your Passwords
We get phone calls all the time with the same complaint. Even as our clients thank us for helping them with a locked account or a password change, they also note that they don’t like making the change. IT people get it. We have to make those same changes; in fact, we change our passwords more often, because the big bad wolves are looking at us first. I hate having to change my password, because then I need to try and memorize a new password to get in and help you. Nothing is funnier and sadder than the IT guy telling you he’ll have to call you back because he can’t get into his own computer.
So why do we want you to change your passwords? We don’t change the locks on our doors unless we get robbed, right?
Don’t Wait Till You’re Robbed
That’s the problem right there. We can’t wait until we get robbed in ANY industry to change the locks. A student at a college in South Dakota can get into a database in Florida if the locks haven’t been changed. The scary hacker we fear from China or Russia in the United States might actually have a job where she or he gets paid just to come in at 8 am in the morning and scan every open internet port your business has, just looking for a door to get in. If they can’t get in, they start figuring out who works for your business, and look to see if they can dig up an old password of yours out on the Dark Web- you know, the digital black market.
Have You Sent Money to the Prince of Nigeria?
I bet you’re prepared to handle that email from the Prince of Nigeria who needs help, but what about your cousin in Cleveland? Wait, is your cousin still in Cleveland? Why is your mom emailing you asking you for help with buying something because she got locked out of her own account? Why isn’t she just calling? Maybe her phone is broken. Oh, she’s looking to get a new iPhone and having problems? I get it, Mom. Here’s my credit card information-
Visa 8022-6334-2384-5138 08/22 CSV 457
Want to buy it from my Amazon account? Sure:
- Email- firstname.lastname@example.org
- Password- Thisisthesamepasswordasthelastonebutichangedthenumberto3 -but it’s at least 8 characters.
I mean, it’s just Amazon, right? We’ll change the password real quick after we call Mom, who didn’t buy an iPhone because her Android is just fine because it’s brand new and doesn’t do that flippy thing anymore, so we’re good.
Never Use the Same Password on Multiple Accounts!
Speaking as a network defender, I can tell you that I get this all the time:
“My password is pretty good, that’s why I use it for everything.”
Really. So let’s back up to changing Amazon real quick since Mom didn’t email you. Your password for your bank account is similar to your Amazon password. Your Amazon password was:
Go on over to https://howsecureismypassword.net and type in the password above. Last time I typed in the password, it went green and told me it would take a computer 3 Million Years to crack it. So you can look at me and say, “Nick, I’m good. Hacker can’t catch me. I changed the password.”
My turn. I bet you changed your password to Fluffybunny4! Thanks for letting me log into your Amazon account as a test, and even letting me buy a new Echo dot to put in the workout room so I can listen to Hall and Oates radio on Pandora. What else do you have?
- Bank- PNC- Password- Fluffybunny5!
- Credit Card- Capital One- Password- Fluffybunny6!
- Retirement- NY Mellon- Password- Fluffybunny2!
At this point, you get the picture. Your strong password is being used with minimal variation. I know you like bunnies, it’s on your Facebook page. If you don’t HAVE a Facebook page, it’s on your daughter’s Facebook page that she got you a bunny for Christmas that you named Carrot Top, even though the fuzzy little guy HATES carrots and only eats lettuce. So let me help you with your passwords for the above:
- Bank- PNC- Password- Ezrafl@ng3sblueCa$3
- Credit Card- Capital One- Password- R0p3str@ng3rTh!ng#
- Retirement- NY Mellon- Password- M0thM@ngr33nDay!
Now tell me if you watch Stranger Things on Netflix. If the answer is “No,” let’s keep it. Who is Ezra? Do you know an Ezra? Is Green Day your favorite band? I don’t think there’s a “Moth Man” in the Avengers movies. The point I’m trying to make is this- if it’s something about you or your friends, or your family, don’t use it as a password. You might love your pet, but I don’t use Anastasia3! as my password, because I like being able to afford to keep her in a good home.
Tier One Technology Partners to the Rescue
This is something I spend time doing at Tier One Technology Partners. Our mission, “To Help Our Clients Navigate Technology” includes protecting our clients by educating them on the smart techniques that keep their businesses flourishing. This extends to personal lives as well, because what is good at work can be good at home.