Safety & Security

Change Your Passwords Today

Recently, my Yahoo email account was compromised. A bogus link was sent to everyone in my contacts list. Grrr. Why does this happen?

Often, it’s a weak password to blame. Let’s say your password is “Fluffy1”. I know, I love my cats too!

Problem is, a computer program can run through the English dictionary (about 60,000 words), tack on a number, and keeping trying until it strikes a match and sails right on into your password protected email, photos, or even your bank accounts.

Please – don’t use weak passwords! I know it’s a challenge keeping up with what feels like hundreds of them, so here are some tips to help make it easier.

  • DON’T use a password that has anything to do with you personally (children or pets’ names, street you live on, etc)
  • Even better – DON’T use a word you can find in the dictionary
  • DO use a password of at least 8 characters
  • DO use a mnemonic to help you remember a string of characters
  • DO replace numbers and symbols for letters, for example “$” instead of “S” or “3” instead of “E”.
Mnemonic Abbreviate Add symbols
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe twaowwlias twa0wwlia$
Yankee Doodle came to town, ridin’ on a pony ydcttroap Ydc2tr0ap
I graduated #1 from Yale University Law school ig#1fyuls Ig#1fYuls!

You can try to use the same password for all of your sites, or for even more protection, add a prefix or suffix to indicate the site, for example “tr” at the beginning or end of your chosen password for “Target”.


  1. Trust Your Passwords to the Cloud? Not Without an Umbrella. | Digital Zen

    02/11/2012 at 5:05 pm

    […] is easier to do than you think. Come up with a phrase or rhyme, take the first letter of each word, replace some letters with […]

  2. Dig Up Your Roots with Some Genealogy Fun | Digital Zen

    02/13/2012 at 2:08 pm

    […] to join, and watch the tree grow! Remember that mothers’ maiden names are valuable, so use a strong password to protect your account. If you want to expand beyond 250 relatives, annual membership is $75. […]

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