Thursday, May 8, 2008

Anomymous Email Bag: The First Post

I asked and you answered the call. Now it is your turn to ask and my turn to answer our first submission to the Anonymous Email Bag.

1. O.K., all these passwords; which one do I use? Yesterday we used "training" for some, one was the funky number and letter combo to get to our e-mail and what about the special one I have that I want to keep and use on my new computer? It is all very confusing!

Think of your passwords as the keys on your keychain. In fact, Mac OS X keeps track of passwords in an application called "Keychain". You don't have to worry about that though. Just go with the idea. On your keychain you have a key for the house, a key for the car, a key for the other vehicle, and a bundle of school keys. Your passwords are like those keys. You have many different ones for the things you want to keep unauthorized people out of, like your email or your server account.

So, when you fire up your laptop, you have a user name and password combination that gets you into the machine. This happens to be the same as your HCS server user name and password because your computer will be talking to the server occasionally to sync files. That is one key on your keychain. You need a separate key to access school email. A different user name and password opens your building file server. To access our wireless network, you need a password. Each of those airports takes a different password. This keeps unauthorized people from milking our Internet or doing something malicious on our dime.

You will want to come up with some location, probably in a drawer you can lock, that has all of your different passwords. The more time you spend online, the more passwords you will generate. I can think of at least 35 I have: Google account, eBay, message boards, Facebook, Ning, the list goes on and on. One final point, be careful not to get into the habit of making them all the same. If a hacker were to get into a database and get your password you use for everything, it could get really ugly the damage he or she could do. Hope this clears up some of your confusion.

1 comment:

Miller said...

I don't know if this is entirely recommended, but I have an additional idea. I have a file on my computer, hidden several folders deep and with a name that no normal person would have any interest in reading (I can't tell you what it is, you might look, but I can promise, it isn't "My Passwords!") that holds all of my passwords. It is an Excel file and it has a column for a description of what the password is for, a column for user name and a column for password. For those sites that have multiple levels of security, I've added columns for things like "Favorite Pet's Name" or "Mother's Maiden Name" or any other information that particular site might ask me for.

It's been really handy for me to have that info on my computer when I need it to work on my computer!