Passwords for Beginners


A popular security measure in the world of computers, is the use of a username and password combination. The idea is that if a user is able to type in the correct username and password, then they must really be the user. For this reason, it is important to make sure that no one else knows or can guess your username and password combinations.


Many programs and websites use an email address as a username. In this context, the email address is simply an identifier, it is not necessarily a valid email address. This is important to note, because sometimes a person’s email address changes and the original email that has been used as a username, is no longer available to receive email. It is important if you change email addresses, to update your recovery information in all websites and programs. It is ok to continue to use the inactive email address as a username identifier. Generally, a username is not case sensitive, so all lower or upper case can be used.


The password is considered to be the private part of this pair, but in reality, it is both pieces together that provide the security.  The rules for creating a password vary from program to program and website to website, but in general, a secure password will contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, and possibly some special characters like *#$(?.  The safest practice is to have a different password for every website and every program, and to change these passwords every 30, 60 or 90 days. This is not very practical, but can be done, or at least approximated, by storing passwords in a secure location so that you don’t need to remember them all. A written list of passwords is not very safe, unless you are able to keep the list in a very private place.  A password is case sensitive, so it must be saved EXACTLY how it is to be entered.

Other password tips include:

  • Use the strongest passwords for the websites/programs that have the most private data, such as your financial and medical information.
  • Have at least a few different passwords, such as one for sites that don’t maintain any of your private information, like a newspaper website or a game website, and a separate one for your bank account.
  • Generally, a website or program that allows purchases will have your payment information stored and should be considered private.
  • It is okay to allow your web browser to save passwords to less private websites if your laptop or desktop is very secure.
  • Make sure that important websites are set up with a cell phone number and an email address that you actually use and have access to, or resetting your password, if you forget it, may become impossible.
  • Mix letters, numbers and special characters even if not all are required.

Stronger password examples:



Weaker password examples:




If you want help with your passwords or a method for storing them, please give us a call and we will sit down with you and talk about the options.