How to Manage Your Passwords

Whether you’re at the office or at home, managing passwords is the key to protecting sensitive professional and personal information.
Individuals and businesses use passwords to guard against identity hacking, unauthorized use of software, and stolen information. Employers often monitor how their employees use passwords in order to protect a business. When you put your personal information into a computer, you should always consider how you manage your passwords to make sure your data is safe.


  1. Avoid using easy-to-identify – and therefore easy-to-hack – passwords such as family names, birthdays, house numbers, phone numbers. In particular, never use a Social Security number as a password. Hackers have become expert at decrypting Social Security numbers based on knowledge of how they are assigned to individuals.
  2. Brainstorm a short list of passwords that you will remember. Have passwords handy before you are prompted to create one helps to take the pressure off and prevent you from creating easily decrypted passwords.
  3. Use a unique password for each application. Passwords for everything from your bank account and ATM card to your utility and Facebook accounts should all be unique. Using the same password for multiple purposes may be easier to remember, but it’s also like putting out a welcome mat for the identity thieves.
  4. Change your passwords frequently. Changing passwords helps reduce the chance that someone will get their hands on an old password and be able to use it to access sensitive accounts.
    • Don’t just change a single letter or number in a previous password. For example, if your password updates over time are LastName1, LastName2, LastName3, and so on, someone who hacked an old password can just as easily hack a new password.
  5. Make use of case sensitive characters. A mix of capitals and lower case letters always helps encrypt passwords and deter hacking. For example, ILoVeNeWyOrK is a harder password to crack than “NewYorkCity.”
  6. Determine whether you need a “password backup.” Though it’s safer to avoid recording your passwords, sometimes doing so is a necessity. If you have so many different passwords or ones you only use occasionally that you think you’ll have trouble remembering them, write them down on paper, and store the paper some place secure where only will have access.
    • Don’t leave paper password back-ups in an unlocked desk or anywhere else that they can be easily taken and misused.
  7. Consider Using a Password Protected SpreadSheet to Hold Your Passwords.
    • Setup a SpreadSheet (Excel, OpenOffice, etc.) to contain the necessary fields (columns) to hold each account identity and password as well as other unique data elements for each account. Password Protect that spreadsheet file.
    • Use a randomizing program to create Passwords of at least 10 positions in length, using alphabet lower and upper case, numerals and (allowable) special characters.
    • The Logon procedure for a given account, say ‘PayPal’, will be to copy the email address and password from the spreadsheet file to the ‘PayPal’ logon page.
    • Never check the option Remember Me on any Logon Page!
    • This technique requires that you remember only one password, that of the spreadsheet file.
    • The passwords generated by the randomizing program are complex, impossible to remember, difficult to manually type correctly (especially under the black dots) and equally difficult to ‘crack’.
    • Maintaining the spreadsheet password file on a USB Drive provides mobility between your home desktop, office desktop and your laptop at the local WiFi Cafe. The USB Drive can be physically removed following logons for additional security.

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