As you surf the Web, you've undoubtedly noticed that many websites require
a user name and password to access services like e-mail, to read
premium content and to shop online.
Typically, you get a password by registering with
the site, usually by filling out an online form. With most sites registration
is free; with others you may have to pay a fee, such as sites with
proprietary research and financial information.
Your password is your prime defense against unauthorized access to your
personal account. Do you want someone reading your e-mail or reviewing
your banking records? Of course not, so it's important to choose passwords
carefully and just as critical, to safeguard them.
A website's security
system can only confirm that a password is legitimate, not whether you're authorized to use the password. Make it tough for potential snoops by following these guidelines:
Don't use passwords that consist of easily obtainable personal information,
such as your address, phone number or date of birth. Also avoid using
common words found in a dictionary.
Devise passwords of at least six characters and consisting of upper and lower
case letters, numbers, and symbols, for example: 2le@rN.
Use a different password for each service you register with.
Ideally, a password should be easy to remember.
However, the reality is that having multiple passwords becomes confusing; which
password is for which site? If you need to record your passwords, store
them in a secure location. A piece of paper in the top drawer of your desk
is tempting fate. Even worse is a Post-It note on your monitor!
Never disclose your password.
For sensitive accounts, such as financial services, change your passwords
frequently. We recommend every two months.