Computer Passwords: Heard Any Good Ones Lately?

Computer passwords are no laughing matter.

Add "getting serious about my computer passwords" to your list of 2013 new year's resolutions.

Everyone knows you should floss your teeth often, and a lot of people do.

Everyone also knows you should have complicated passwords (and more than a handful), but few people do.

The Worst Passwords Ever

According to Jennifer Waters in The Wall Street Journal, "The annual compilations of 'worst passwords ever' are numerous but remarkably similar in their results. Moreover, the top 25 or so passwords are held by an alarmingly large number of people." Wondering what some of the worst passwords are? If your password is "password," "football," "qwerty," "11111" or any other common combination of letters or numbers, you should think about changing it.

"Computer hackers don't just sit around typing in passwords to websites at night." [Tweet this]

They have computer software programs that do it 24/7. If they hack passwords from a retailer, for example, they barrage major bank websites like Bank of America, Chase Bank, Citigroup and Wells Fargo to see what their "phishing" can catch.

Think of a Story

The best way to remember large numbers of passwords, according to Markus Jakobsson, a security research expert and advisor to the newly formed Council for Identity Protection, is to think of a story. Then come up with three words to describe the story. Customize it for different websites by adding a different color to the end, like red, white or blue.

Group Your Passwords

Identify different groups for your passwords list (for example, financial accounts, social media and retailers). Use different stories for different groups of accounts. Customize each story with a different ending so no two websites have the same password.

Software to the Rescue

Fight fire with fire. Consider using a password management software program. Popular programs include RoboForm Everywhere, Sticky Password, Kappersky Password Manager, DataVault and Handy Password Manager.

Imagine a few memorable stories and start your new year off right with new passwords!

About Bruce J. Berno, CFP®
Bruce J. Berno, CFP® is the founder of Berno Financial Management, Inc. a fee-only comprehensive personal financial planning and investment advisory firm headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Since 1993, Berno Financial Management has been helping individuals and families achieve financial peace of mind. For more information about Berno Financial Management, visit