WARNING: You need to change some passwords this weekend. You really do!

I do not like “house-cleaning” tasks on my computer, but unfortunately, we all need to change some passwords ASAP.

You may or may not have heard about it, but there was a pretty big security bug discovered on the Internet this week. It’s called the Heartbleed bug and not every Internet company was vulnerable to it, but you may have received some emails advising you to change your password on some websites.

Mashable.com has put together a list of some of the major websites we all use and whether or not we need to change our passwords on them.

THIS IS IMPORTANT! You need to click here to check which websites on this list you need to go to and change your password.

The Mashable article also advises “… if you reused the same password on multiple sites, and one of those sites was vulnerable, you’ll need to change the password everywhere. It’s not a good idea to use the same password across multiple sites, anyway.”

Changing passwords can make you crazy if you don’t have a system for creating strong passwords and a way to remember them. The safest and strongest passwords have at least 12 characters that include letters, numbers and special characters.

You may think that sounds impossible to remember, but it’s not if you choose one method for password creation and systematically use it for all your passwords. Here is a method for creating strong and unique passwords.

The acronym password

  1. Think of a nine or ten word phrase that you can remember that’s meaningful to you and write down the first letter of each word in the phrase:
    My favorite flavor of ice cream is mint chocolate chipmffoicimcc
    I love to go to the beach at Pawley’s Islandiltgttbapi
    I eat cereal toast and coffee every morning for breakfastiectacemfb
  2. Now take your chosen acronym and add a number to the beginning.
  3. For the site where you are assigning this password, add a capital letter at the end of the acronym that is the first letter of that site. For instance, Facebook would be F, Gmail would be G, Evernote would be E, etc.
  4. Finally, add a special character at the end.

Now, instead of having to remember this jumble of characters, you can remember your own formula. Use the same number at the beginning, the same acronym and the same special character at the end for all your passwords. What will change is the capital letter representing a particular website.

My number + the first letters of my phrase + capital letter of website for this password + my special character = strong password

There is so much more to be done to feel at ease about your passwords.

  • Where do you save a list of them securely?
  • If you were far from home and forgot a password how could you find it?
  • If something happened to you, would your family members be able to find your passwords to access important financial accounts?

It’s becoming such a problem for many people, I’m going to work on creating a quick and easy self-paced video class to help those of you who never want to forget a password again and keep them as safe as possible. If you’re not a subscriber to my email updates and want to be notified when the class is ready, be sure to subscribe in the upper right sidebar.

Here’s the most important tip. Please take some time this weekend and change your passwords!

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