Logins and Passwords
One aspect of internet security involves creating accounts, such as access to online banking or online bill payment, using techniques that protect and secure your personal information and privacy.
You will be asked to create logins and passwords, and there are times when you will need to define/pre-answer security questions as well.
“Secure” Security Questions and Answers
You may be presented with a list of questions to choose from and provide an answer to.
“What is your significant other’s birthday?”
There is no rule that says you need to use the “correct answer”. Just pick a date that you can remember – say 1/1/1940. Anyone attempting to guess the fake date you enter for security purposes will not be successful, even if they have somehow gained access to your personal information – as in the case of identity theft.
“Your mother’s maiden name?”
Why use your mother’s actual maiden name – pick anything that you will remember.
“What is your favorite color?”
Pick an ugly one. Or choose a combination of colors, like red, white and blue.
“What was your first car?”
Who checks to see if it even is a car. How about NorthWest, Greyhound, or Amtrak!
You get the point. It isn’t necessary to provide honest, personal information. In the case of internet security, it is better that you don’t. It is only necessary for it to be memorable for you and difficult to guess for others.
If you can write your own question, the answer you provide doesn’t even have to make sense (to anyone else). The answer can be totally unrelated to the question …
OK … so how do you remember all these logins and passwords and goofy security questions and answers? Read on …
Treat Your Passwords Like A Toothbrush …
Don’t Let Anybody Else Use Them and Get A New One Every 6 Months
Remembering Account Information
With all the logins, passwords and security questions/answers we must keep track of when using the internet for various accounts, it helps to use memorization techniques.
When you associate, you make the things you want to remember to relate to each other in some way.
For example, perhaps your favorite color consistently represents something to you – brings something to mind immediately. Take the color blue. From a symbolic standpoint, blue represents sadness in my mind. Orange represents Halloween. Yellow represents the sun. Purple represents royalty. So, if the security question is …
“What is your favorite color?”
Your answer could be sad, or Halloween, or sun, or royalty – rather than the actual color itself. I associate my first car as a “beater”, my father’s middle name as “initial”, my favorite flower with “butterflies”, the first name of my best childhood friend with “taco night”, etc.
Who would guess these answers? If you have to think too hard about how to relate two things – you probably won’t remember what you came up. Use the first, most obvious thing that comes to mind. This is the Association memorization technique.
Visualization helps you to create a strong, vivid memory. Try to picture in your mind what you wish to remember.
If your preference is to rely on an image that comes to mind rather than a related description or action – use the visualization technique. For instance, when asked what my favorite vacation spot is, I immediately visualize sitting on a beach holding an “umbrella drink”.
Repeat the procedures for associating and visualizing to burn the information into your memory.
Of course, it doesn’t make sense to use the same questions and answers for every internet account you have. If ever one did get hacked, all of your accounts would be exposed to security breaches. So repetition doesn’t mean repeating the same information over and over again. It means using the same method over and over again.
Keep it simple and uncomplicated. Keep your questions and answers short and direct. If you need to, make a list of four questions typically asked, and four questions you write yourself, along with your answers, and alternate these eight between accounts. Mix them up while remaining consistent.
Password Internet Security
These same techniques can be used when creating passwords. More and more frequently, a password is required to have at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, and a number. In some cases, it is even required that you include a symbol, such as an ampersand (&) or dollar sign ($). Typically, a password must be at least 6 characters total – sometimes up to 8 characters are required.
So choose two uppercase letters, two lowercase letters, two symbols and two numbers (for example) – associate them with something, or visualize your choices for each, to help you remember … and then change them up, switch them around, or create four to six different passwords that you alternate between accounts.
Now that you’ve got a “system” for creating internet accounts securely, start making changes to protect your personal information each time you log in to an existing account.