HomeHome : Monthly Tips : Dec 2010

Manage Multiple Logins

December 2010 — Tip of the Month

If you are online on a regular basis, it's likely you have accumulated many different logins with several different passwords. Since remembering multiple different logins can be difficult, most people use the same username and password for multiple websites. While this strategy makes sense, it can be a security issue, especially if you choose an simple password.

If you have trouble remembering dozens of logins (which most of us do), my advice is to create at least three separate logins.

  1. The first login is the simplest login, which you can use for online forums and other membership sites that don't collect too much personal information.
  2. The second one, which should be longer and harder to guess, can be used for websites that collect financial data and other important confidential information. For example, banking websites and online retailers that collect credit card information should use this login.
  3. The third login should be used for your primary email account and should be the most secure.

The reason you should use a separate password for your email account is that many websites will send login reminders to the email address associated with an account. Therefore, if someone gains access to your primary email account, he or she may be able to find out several of your logins at once. Additionally, your email address is made public to everyone you send an email to, meaning others already know your username. All they have to do is guess your password to hack into your email account. Therefore, your email password should be your most secure password.

No matter what login you create, make sure to select a secure username and password. For example, choose a username that only close friends would be able to identify as yours. When choosing a password, avoid any common ones such as "password" or "1234". These are the logins that get hacked most frequently. Make sure your password isn't a single word and includes both letters and numbers, or even symbols for extra security. Since each additional character makes your password exponentially more secure, longer passwords are better than short ones. I recommend a minimum of eight characters.

While managing multiple logins can be difficult, it is an important responsibility. Make sure to put some thought into choosing logins that are difficult to guess. After all, it is much better to proactively choose a secure login rather than change it after finding out it wasn't secure enough.

- Per Christensson