WordCount – Freelancing in the Digital Age

By Michelle Vranizan Rafter

A little password protection goes a long way

with 2 comments

How many passwords you use? Take a guess – 5 maybe, or 10?

passwordI counted mine today and came up with 30 – if I spent the time I could probably come up with more:

  • Desktop computer
  • Laptop computer
  • Email
  • Blog
  • Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook
  • Online news and blog reader
  • Online newspaper subscription
  • Back issue archive for trade magazine I write for
  • Google, for Google Groups and Blogger
  • Online writers’ group no. 1
  • Online writers’ group no. 2
  • Online bookmark service
  • Technorati, Digg, StumpleUpon
  • Bank No. 1 PIN number
  • Bank No. 1 online bill pay
  • Bank No. 2 PIN number
  • Quicken
  • Investment company for SEP-IRA
  • Online bookstore
  • Online grocery service
  • Online grocery e-script fundraising program
  • Online movie ticket service
  • Online travel service
  • Anti-virus software website
  • Multiple airlines
  • Doctor’s office online medical records account
  • Cell phone PIN number
  • High school website, for accessing son’s grades
  • Online grade school lunch order service

No wonder I can’t remember the combination to my locker at the gym.

What does this have to do with writing? Directly, nothing. Indirectly, a lot. The more time you spend on work-related administrative tasks like logging into research archives, blogs, bookmark services, etc., the less time there is to do any actual work.

If you’re a blogger, or you use social networks like Twitter or Facebook to crowdsource, promote your work or connect with editors, think of the havoc a hacker could wreck on your files and your reputation by breaking into one of them and sending out tweets in your name, spamming your connections with a virus or corrupting your old blog posts.

If you work on a laptop, think of what could happen if it was lost or stolen.

So, ya, passwords are important.

How do you remember yours? Some I keep in my head. Some I keep in my contact manager, which isn’t the safest thing to do but it’s the lazy woman’s way.

Do you change passwords? If you’re like me, probably not often. Some I’ve had for years. Some I’ve changed once or twice. Some I change a lot – my Twitter password, for example, especially in light of what seems like a growing number of phishing attacks there.

I use Quicken’s password vault feature so I can log onto multiple investment accounts at once for updates without having to type in the individual PIN number for each – that’s handy.

But other than that, I’m due for a major password overhaul. So I’ve been reading up on password managers. Here’s a few worth apps considering:

KeePass – In a poll last year, readers of Lifehacker, the tech-savvy guide to getting stuff done, picked this open-source password manager as their favorite. Others mentioned: RoboForm for Windows, and 1Password for Mac.

Passpack – WebWorkerDaily gave this a thumbs up for storing multiple passwords in one location, automatically logging you into websites and some extra security features.

For Apple computers – The Apple Blog recently shared this list of five password managers for Apple hardware, including 1Password.

Picking passwords – Don’t use your dog, your address or your maiden name. Here’s other tips from YourSecurityResource.com, an Internet security site I write for on a regular basis (though not this story).

What’s your password protection?

Written by Michelle Rafter

June 10, 2009 at 12:08 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Promise you won’t laugh? Honest? OK then. My high tech solution is to use high strength passwords that even I can’t remember. I write them all down on couple of index cards I keep in my desk drawer. Not to worry. It’s my home office. My reasoning? If anything ever happens to me or my computer…



    June 17, 2009 at 5:19 pm

  2. It’s not a bad idea to have passwords written down and stored somewhere, but Internet security experts would probably say it’s best to keep them in your bank safety deposit box or a strong box somewhere else in your house or at a friend’s house, not necessarily in your office desk drawer.


    Michelle Rafter

    June 19, 2009 at 1:31 pm

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