4 steps to creating easy-to-remember passwords

4 Easy Ways to Remember PasswordsYour ATM PIN. Your social security number. Your home phone number. Your cell phone number. Birthdays, Anniversaries. There’s already too much to remember – before you add in all the passwords for all the Internet sites you visit.

 According to the National Security Institute, the average computer user has more than 40 accounts that require usernames and passwords. The easy solution is to use one password for all your accounts – perhaps a word or phrase that is easy for you to remember such as your dog’s name or your street address. Unfortunately, using the same password on all your accounts is one of the most dangerous things you can do.

Why is this dangerous?

Online accounts connected to your banking, mortgage, and medical records could pose serious identity theft opportunities if your passwords are compromised. The accounts and passwords you set up in Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other social media venues control your online reputation. Using the same password on all your accounts is tempting fate – and significantly increases the possibility of identity theft.

Tracking passwords

Now that you understand the serious implications of using the same password, what should you do? Before you begin changing all the passwords on all your accounts – which you should do – consider how you will keep track of all these new passwords. You could:

  • use a pad of paper and pen, listing your accounts and passwords and adding new ones that you create.
    As you accumulate accounts, though, you may find it difficult to locate a needed password without thumbing through pages and pages.
  • use an address book to track website addresses and their associated passwords in a logical alphabetical order.
  • create a spreadsheet with columns for web addresses and passwords that could be updated and sorted for easy reference.
    An additional problem with the above paper and pen and spreadsheet tracking systems: they may to be easily misplaced or the information may be easily copied by unscrupulous individuals.
  • create unique, strong passwords that you’ll remember for each website.

Creating unique, strong passwords 

Experts recommend the use of long, complex passwords that include upper-& lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols to keep hackers at bay. The secret to remembering your passwords is creating your own pattern based on the website address.

 Here’s how:

  1. Pick a number that has meaning to you such as
    • your street number
    • birth month
    • birthdate

    This is the number you will use to create your passwords.
    For my example, I’ll choose 4.

  2. Pick 4-6 letters that make sense to you but that aren’t a word in the dictionary such as
    • The first initials of your family members (tttt– for Terry, Tom, Tim, & Tina)
    • Your pet’s name backwards (revor – for Rover)
    • An abbreviation of your street and hometown (eplrno– for East Pleasant Lake Road, North Oaks)

    This is the constant letters you will use to create your passwords, use this in lower case.
    For my example, I’ll choose an abbreviation of street and hometown: eplrno.

    So far, you have a number and a set of letters that will be consistent for each password. You choose if you want the number(s) or letters to be first.
    For my example, I’ll use the letters first so each of my passwords will begin with eplrno4

  3. For added security, you could even add a “special character” (! # $ % ^ & *) into your password pattern.

    For my example, I’ll at a $ before my number. My password is now eplrno$4

  4. For the last part of your password, you’ll use part of the website name to create your password. You should use at least 4-6 characters.
    As an example if you are setting up your password on Facebook.com, you can choose:
    • Every other letter (FCBO)
    • Just the consonants (FCBK)
    • Just the vowels (AEOO)

    For my example, I’ll choose every other letter: FCBO, in caps.

Using these four easy steps, my example unique password for Facebook.com would be eplrno$4FCBO.This is a strong password because it contains a combination of letters and numbers and no words that are in the dictionary.

Creating strong passwords that are easy to for you to remember is the key. Use the above four steps to create strong, easy-to-remember passwords that hackers will have difficulty guessing.

Spend a few minutes with steps 1 – 3 to personalize your password pattern. Once you’ve changed a few passwords using your new pattern, you’ll see how easy it is to remember what looks like a very confusing password. And you can always use a sticky note on your monitor to remind you of your pattern – but, please, don’t label it “My Password Pattern.” In fact, make it look like something it’s not. In my case, my note would look like this:

Easy enough for me to remember my Password Pattern, but nonsensical to others who might see the note.

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Do Your Facebook Friends Know Too Much?

Do you know what you are really sharing on Facebook?

Facebook seems to hold a special place is all of its users’ hearts. And I’m willing to bet most people have a love hate relationship with the social media site. We love the ability to stay connected with friends near and far. We loathe reading all of those whiny Facebook statuses and the hourly updates about where your friend is going or what they are doing. And many of the recent updates have turned us into unwilling stalkers.

Take, for instance, the new group feature. Now, when you post in a closed group (and I’m going to assume a secret group as well although I haven’t looked into it), you can see what members view your post and what time.  I noticed this the other day as I viewed a post by my soccer team captain about the field location and game time. Now, this does have its advantages. We then knew who saw the game information and were able to contact those who didn’t check Facebook. But did I really need to know that teammate A saw the post at 8am and that teammate B didn’t check for a post until 11am? Not really. And I felt a bit violated as then suddenly everyone knew what time I was on Facebook checking that page for that post at exactly 9:36am that morning. Don’t get me wrong, I can see a benefit. But it also makes me feel like a bit of a stalker…

Or how about the added timestamps in Facebook chat that notify you as to what time you sent your message and what exact minute your Facebook friend viewed your message? I haven’t quite found a purpose to this feature other than for you to make assumptions as to how focused your Facebook friend is on you and your conversation. When they view your message right away you feel like they were waiting for you to send it. But, if it takes them a few minutes to view your message, you’re left wondering what they could possibly be doing that is more important than talking to you. So it seems to be a feature that could cause more problems in Facebook friendships then whatever its real purpose may be.

It turns out that now every time you “like” a picture or a company’s status, etc.,
these things then get broadcast to all of your Facebook friends’ newsfeeds.

The newsfeed is a feature of Facebook that has been drastically changed a few times, usually with a negative response from the users. But Facebook sticks to their guns and eventually everyone adjusts and goes on their merry way. But lately, my newsfeed has seemed to house a much larger quantity of pictures and quotes than of statuses and things I actually care about. It turns out that now every time you “like” a picture or a company’s status, etc., these things then get broadcast to all of your Facebook friends’ newsfeeds. Great. Now, every silly picture you like will be announced to ALL of your friends. So that picture of a political bumper sticker that your friend posted and you liked? Now all of your Facebook friends know where you stand on that issue, regardless of whether or not you have ever said a word about which party you favor or what belief you hold. Not only do you now need to be careful about what you “like” as it all gets broadcast over the loud speaker, but now your newsfeed is full of a ton of things you probably don’t care about.

And, if you watched the news about a month or so ago, it was broadcast that Facebook changed your displayed email on your About page to your Facebook email. Whoa, Facebook, WHAT?! I didn’t even know I had one of those emails! And I still don’t know how to access that email account, although I haven’t really tried. But, nonetheless, my Facebook email was suddenly displayed publicly as a way for people to contact me. I’ve never had my email displayed, so not only was my email address changed in my contact section, but it was suddenly displayed as well. So, unless you’re one of the few who actually uses your Facebook email address, you should double check that if you DO want an email address displayed, it is one you actually use. And I wouldn’t recommend an important email address, depending on how you run your Facebook page, as you may get more emails than you bargain for.

So Facebook, I’m sure there will be more changes. I am 100% positive there have been many other small stalkerish (yes, I have deemed that a real word) changes to Facebook recently and more to come.  Have you noticed anything different about Facebook that you love, hate, or love to hate?

Facebook and Identity Theft

Identity theft caused by over sharing online

How sharing on Facebook (almost) ruined my life

Privacy. Some people put up a fence and close the blinds while some people get the newspaper in their whitey tighties. But what do they do to protect themselves on the internet?

From what I have seen, many people aren’t as careful online as they should be. A common theme among those I know is, “only really personal stuff needs to be private”.

So what qualifies as really personal stuff? It depends on who you ask. It can include your SSN, your credit card number, your passwords, your birthday, your address, days you’ll be out of town, times when you are home alone, anything that could give away your secret questions for your passwords when you forget them (secret questions such as “What is your first pet’s name?”), and even your phone number.

“Jax was my new puppy. I was so proud of him that I wanted to show him off to all my friends. I loved him so much I even changed my Facebook password to IloveJAX. I made myself an easy target to anyone looking to gain access to my Facebook account. I had my posts set as public, put up a status about how I loved my new puppy, Jax, and before I knew it my friends were calling me saying they got some weird messages from me on Facebook. If it weren’t for some of my hypervigilant friends on Facebook, things could have gotten a lot worse. I’ll always be sure to make sure my passwords are much more difficult to figure out!”

As you may guess, stealing credit card numbers is a big one that happens quite frequently and identity theft has increased throughout the past few years. And while those may appear to be the only privacy and security threats on the internet, they are only the beginning.

Once you put something on the internet, it is there forever. That blog posting you typed up that talked about how much you hated person XYZ can come back to haunt you. And that doesn’t only happen with blogs. Facebook statuses have led to the suspension of students and even teachers. Beware; it doesn’t just happen in schools. In your spare time, Google “people fired over Facebook status” and you’ll find numerous links to Facebook statuses that have cost people their jobs.

Facebook statuses aren’t the only aspect of Facebook you should be concerned with. Posting your address and phone number makes it easy for people who have stumbled across you online to find you IRL (in real life). Uploading mobile images lets people know where you are, which can be okay but it can also let people know that your home is vacant. Identifying your family members and hometown can even be a big no-no if you use your hometown or mother’s maiden name as your security question answers.

Facebook does have privacy settings that you should familiarize yourself with. Make sure you know the people you are “friending”. Be careful what you say in your statuses. Don’t share TOO much in your “About” section. And stay current on Facebook security, Zuckerberg seems to change settings every now and then.

A 1,000 page book could not cover everything you need to know about privacy and security on the internet. Be cautious and untrusting. And if you have any questions, let me know. I can go into more detail regarding what Facebook security settings mean or how you can help protect yourself when making online purchases or anything else you’d like to know. Or, if you have a story regarding online privacy, share your experiences to help others avoid the same mistakes

If you take one piece of advice with you today, it should be this:

You cannot trust anyone on the internet. Be careful what you share. Be cautious of websites, especially ones you have never visited. Don’t enter your SSN or any other personal data unless you are 100% sure you can trust the website. If you have any doubt, do not do it. Be careful. Be safe. Have fun!

Marketing Tip #2 | Check Your Online Reputation

Check your Online Reputation

Do you know what others are finding when they look for you and your company on the internet? Do you know what is really out there?

To check your online reputation, Google your name, your company name, your product name, your industry, and your competition.

You can easily discover your online reputation by clicking on all the links you find. Are you pleased with what you read?

  • Claim company listings on directory and review sites. Add information and your logo.
  •  If you find negative reviews, address them immediately by positively responding using your real name. Don’t ever create false reviews.

Here’s a link to a Google Search Results template to help you track your online reputation.

If you would like help turning around a negative online reputation, contact Reciprocate LLC today for a free consultation.

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Twitter: Phishing Attack

Twitter recently reset passwords on numerous users’ accounts. 

If you cannot log into your Twitter account, check your emails to see if you have received one from Twitter that looks like this:

If you received this email, you will not be able to log into your Twitter account without clicking on the emailed link.  Additional information may be found on the Twitter  help page.

As a precaution, Twitter users are advised to not share their Twitter password and account information with third party companies that offer to increase follower counts rapidly.