Tips on Keeping Your Passwords Secure

//Tips on Keeping Your Passwords Secure

Tips-on-Keeping-Your-Passwords-SecureWhen the family gathered together for Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law told me that someone had hacked her email account (I always regret getting her an iPad and an email account). The funny thing about family gatherings is that if you are the lawyer in the family everyone expects you to know everything about the law. If you are the tech person, everyone brings their tech issues to you.

Lucky me, I’m the lawyer and the tech person in the family. I’m sure this happens to many of you.

While I was asking my mother-in-law about her account and resetting the password, I chuckled and laughed at the level of security she implemented. As you know, most websites ask you to create security questions and answers. Her email account asked me to answer her security questions which she created on her own. The first question was “What is 1 + 1.” With that security, my 8-year-old nephew could be a hacker.

This made me realize we could all use a few tips on secure passwords. So here are 7 tips on keeping your passwords secure.

Use a unique password

Create passwords that use a combination of words, numbers, symbols, and both upper and lower case. If you are wondering how to keep your password secure, try to come up with something stronger than “Password” or your birthday.

Don’t use words for your password

Hackers can use a technique called “dictionary attack” that simply tries a list of words commonly used for passwords. Also, avoid sequential passwords, such as “123456” or “qwerty”. These types of passwords are easily cracked.

Longer passwords are more secure

Create passwords that are at least 10 – 12 characters long. This makes it harder for hackers to decode your password.

Don’t use one password everywhere

One of the best ways to keep your passwords secure is to avoid using the same password for all our accounts. It may be simple, but if one of your accounts gets hacked then all your accounts are vulnerable. For example, if you create an account while online shopping and that retailer gets hacked, your email address and password is now vulnerable.

Create obscure passwords

If you thought your use of the “@” symbol for an “a” and “!” for “1” was clever to avoid hackers, you are incorrect. Hackers know what symbols are commonly used for substitutions and are easily cracked. You should try to create obscure and unexplainable letters, numbers, and symbols that you can remember. Some have suggested using a sentence or phrase as a password creator. For example, use a sentence “The Chicago Cubs took 108 years to win the world series” and create a password using the first letter of each word: “tCCt108ytwtws”.

Use a password manager

Consider using a password manager, such as LastPass, 1Password, or other services that will help keep your passwords secure and keep them in one place. This makes it easy to manage and many of these services help you create random passwords.

Implement a password policy at your firm

As you review your passwords, make sure that your password policy at your firm is in place. You have an ethical duty to ensure that you are taking reasonable steps and precautions to protect your client’s data. Keeping your passwords secure is one of the most important steps to take.

Passwords are your friend so make sure you keep them secure. Create a unique, lengthy, and obscure password that is not easily guessable, and you will be on the right track to keeping your passwords secure.


By |January 8th, 2018|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Additionally, Josh sits on the Board of Directors of Chicago-based Community Activism Law Alliance and on the Board of Directors of Chicago Fringe Opera Company. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.