Corona Virus and working from home

This article, once published, is meant for everyone who was suddenly forced to work from home. Working from home is very different in comparison to working in the office. Most companies have some sort of protection implemented and the IT department makes sure that everything is as it should be.

Working from home is different

Because of the Corona virus, many workers have switched to working from home. This is usually done by using a company-issued laptop or connecting to the company server. Usually, it is OK to do so but these days, when many workers work from home, the enemy aware. There are a few things that can be taken advantage of. One of the biggest problems is authentication so let’s talk about that.

User account login

In order to connect to your work place you need to log in and here is the first problem. A login consists of two pieces of information. The account or user name and the password. Amazingly, many people use simple passwords and therefore, I’d like to provide a few suggestions on how you can strengthen your password right now.

The weakest part of online security are people. Most often, the IT department will give you an available user name to log in with and leave choosing the password up to you. Some are helpful and advise you to chose a secure password. I always smile when I’m told to pick a secure password because that’s all the advise there is. No one tells you how to chose a secure password and therefore, I will.

How to pick a secure password

The art of creating and memorizing a secure password lies in seeing it. Yes, you have to see your password for if you don’t, you won’t remember it. So how do you see a password? It’s actually easier than one thinks. There are many things you can imagine. When you imagine a situation, your brain converts what you imagine into pictures. Those pictures often stay with us for ever.

What can you imagine that won’t change?

  • If you have a favorite sports team and can imagine them standing lined up in a specific order then you can see your password.
  • If you have a geographic region in mind that is unforgettable because you have grown up there or vacation there a lot then you can see your password.
  • If you are part of a big family and have five or more favorite people then you can see your password.
  • If you are older and remember all of the cars you owned in the past then you can see your password.
  • If you have a handful of favorite restaurants then you can see your password.

Any combination of the above will let you create a secure and memorable password. To give you an example, I use the google map of Canada. Depending on the zoom level, I can see the whole country or a small region. Let’s say that I lived in Toronto, then Calgary and now in Vancouver. Those three cities give me three names in a specific order.

As per my example, if I lived in those three cities for a while, then I would remember if I had a car or used public transit. When I first moved to Vancouver, I used to ask for directions to the C-Train stations. The thing is that in Vancouver, public transport is called different from Calgary and is referred to Translink. So let’s add three more variables.

I lived in Toronto and drove and Audi, then moved to Calgary and used the c-train and lastly, moved to Vancouver where I drive a Mercedes. From those six facts, I can make a variety of secure passwords. And the best part is that I can see where I lived and how I got around. It would not take much effort to memorize the order and recall it when needed. Here are some possible passwords based on the six names:

  1. torAudcalC-trvanMer
  2. ntoau+aryct+verme
  3. torUdi1calAin2vanDes3

Do you see the patterns? I just use the first three letters of the cities and three letters of how I got around. The password length is very good. Anything over 16 random characters is secure. I hope that this inspires you to imagine what you see and once you do, order it in a way that makes sense to you.

My password is too hard to type

Good news. If a password is hard to type for you then it is hard to type for others as well but that’s not all. Crackers don’t care about typing your password. They care about breaking it but this is a very complex and resource-consuming process. Please know that if a password is hard to type, it will get easier the more often you type it. A music student won’t master the assignment the next day but rather a week later if she practices as advised by the teacher.

Repetition makes perfect. This is true when it comes to passwords and pretty much everything we do. If you can visualize something, you can usually repeat it. I hope that this article inspires you to change your password for a secure one. Working from home is stressful enough because you can’t access everything you used to use. If you printer runs out of paper then you can’t just grab a new pack from the stock room.

So be smart and secure your account with a strong password. After all, the less worries you have during this stressful time the better. Thank you for reading.

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