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How to Keep Your Online Passwords Under LOCK and KEY.

Updated on August 17, 2012

It is more important than ever to choose strong passwords for all your online accounts. Many of us conduct most of our daily business online. We shop online. We chat online. We bank online.

By choosing strong online passwords you can ward off any potential prowlers from discovering your personal information, from risking financial loss or from stealing your identity.

Here are 10 do's and don'ts that will help you choose strong passwords and keep your information out of the prying hands and under your LOCK and KEY.


Within just a few minutes, a hacking program can try all the words in a dictionary that you may have used as your password. Incorporate numbers and other characters to your password when ever allowed. Also, there are no rules that state your passwords must be spelled correctly. If you insist on using a particular word consider a different spelling.

*Just be sure that you make note of this incorrect method for future use.


Just because you're being asked for your mother's maiden name, does not mean that you must provide it. Very often, it is this easily found personal information that allows thieves enough detail to break in and steal your identity.

Rather than provide your mother's real name, type in her nickname from college, her maiden name, or type in a completely different name.


The most common letters used in passwords are A,E,O, and R. The most common number is 1. One of the most popular passwords containing letters is abc; and one of the most common passwords, as you can imagine, is 123.

These commonly used letters and numbers make for poor passwords. Choose less common letters and numbers while building your password and avoid all repetitions and sequences.

*yes, that includes, a,e,i,o,u and x,y,z and 111.


Having a random password can be more difficult to remember, but the benefits of added security should make you feel a bit better. Choosing passwords that contains both letters and numbers is good, but be sure to include capitals and lower case letters, as well as, special characters like, ! 8 # and /.

Many passwords now require that you incorporate a character. It is not always necessary to add that character at the end of your password. It may be wiser to insert the character somewhere in the middle.


Ever play dominos? Using a single password to 'protect' all your online accounts is a similar game. As you have seen in the news, online retailers have experienced security breaches on a variety of ocassions. If your Marshal's reward card had the same password as your online banking account, you've made it pretty easy for those interested in stealing from you.


Remember those tricks on how to recall someone's name? You meet a women named Margarita and you picture the beverage in your mind's eye - that game. The same trick can be used when choosing your passwords.

Think about your password in relation to the site you are on. If you are signing up for a snapfish account, you may opt to use iTakeAMazingPHOTOS! as your password.


Not that long ago, there seemed to be only a few security questions to choose from. Today, there is more of a selection and you can, in some cases, create your own.

If you're allowed to create your own security question, that is the best option, provided you do not structure the question around an easily disclosed answer; "What color are my eyes".

If your only option is to indicate your mother's maiden name or the street you grew up on, consider making up a name or typing in a password that is not a name at all.

*When someone 'googles' your name, your online presence is listed for all to see, therefore, I can visit your Facebook profile and not only see the color of your eyes, but your favorite restaurant and the music that you listen to.


If any of your online accounts offer an added security level, sign up for it. Online banking accounts often require that you have a code that will be sent to your cell phone before changing your password. This is especially beneficial if you, in fact, are NOT the one trying to create a new password. Also, you may be able to sign up for an email notification of any password changes to your account. This will alert you that changes have been made or attempted allowing you the opportunity to safeguard your other account passwords and notify the authorities.


Many of us have a long list of online accounts and each of them requires a password. If you only visit an account once in awhile, don't maintain a password for that account. Simply create a new password each time you long into that account. For example, If you signed up for a miles program with JetBlue, but you only check your miles once every few months, create a new password each time to check your account. That can be much simpler than trying to remember an obscure password that you use so infrequently.


Life is chaotic. Sometimes, it might be best to simply delegate. Signing up for a password manager often requires you to simply remember one password for that program. The password manager will remember all the other passwords for you.

There are some very good programs available. Some are free and others will cost you. It's probably worth checking out.

Here are a few suggestions of digital systems that you can research. There are pros and cons to each tool. I would recommend that you review each password management system and then decide which, if any, would suit your needs and personality best.

  • KeePass
  • Mono
  • LastPass
  • 1Password
  • RoboForm
  • PasswordVault
  • my-iWallet
  • Norton Identity Safe

Now that you have created a few strong passwords how do you keep them safe? For a society that lives life on the go, there is no easy solution to this question.

Here are three common tactics that you could use:

1. Write it down. This may be the best method for you at home. If you don't have a house or dorm room full of people poking around your stuff and you keep your list of passwords in a secure location. This is, however, a poor safety method to use at the office.

2. Reset your password each time you login. You can do this endlessly and because you change your password often, this is a very secure method of keeping your information safe.

3. Opt for a digital tool which stores and uses encrypted login information. Many of the password systems offer a variety of protections offering you secure password without the headache of remembering them all.

Soon, nearly everyone will own a smartphone and many of us keep a wealth of personal data on our phones. Certain phone apps store even more information that we may not even be aware of on the phone.

If your smartphone is lost or stolen, a thief can easily retrieve a frightening amount of detail pertaining to you and your family.


In addition to selecting strong online passwords, you will want to review the account settings for each and every website that you log into. Many websites require you to share personal information with them. Check your account settings to be sure that you know what information is being used by the host and if you have the ability to opt out.

Do you have any suggestions that you'd like to share?

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    • alifeofdesign profile image

      Graham Gifford 5 years ago from New Hamphire

      Hi Nesbyte, thanks for stopping by. I was actually quite surprised after researching that so many people do not password protect their phones and yet I know of at least 4 people, personally, who have lost their phones.

      Best Regards,

    • Nesbyte profile image

      Nesbyte 5 years ago from UK

      Great hub with some excellent points. I never knew that A, E, O, and R were the most common letters used in passwords. I'll be sure to steer clear of them now!