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Solving password hassles

April 27, 2010 8:33:52 PM PDT
In a world where our passwords are the gateway to so many of the electronic devices we now rely on, many people are reaching a breaking point. A just-released Consumer Reports survey on technology gripes finds that not being able to remember passwords is the No. 1 frustration. And Consumer Reports cautions that using a password leaves you vulnerable to identity theft if it contains information about you that's easy to find out, such as your name, address, birthday, or some variation of those things.

And using one password for everything is a mistake. If ID thieves get the password to, say, your Amazon account, you could have unintentionally given them access to your bank account.

For stronger e-security, three passwords are ideal: one for financial Web sites; another for sites with your personal information, such as Facebook; and a third for sites that have no confidential information, such as blogging sites.

Consumer Reports advises that you'll make it easier by starting with something you can remember, such as a childhood friend's name, maybe spelled backward. And then add some numbers or symbols to the beginning and end. That way, if you have to write it down, you can just write down the add-ons.

If you must write down your passwords, Consumer Reports says that you never want to put the list in your computer, where it can be easily stolen. The same goes for carrying it your wallet or leaving your passwords next to your computer. Instead, hide the list where thieves won't have a clue to look, like the pages of a favorite book.

New technology can also help solve password hassles. There are devices that let you scan your finger in order log onto Web sites. And certain computers now use facial recognition software to let you log on.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this Web site.

Copyright © 2006-2010 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc.


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