Passwords… Not exactly a topic that generates much excitement. Yet in a world of increasing Internet connectedness, passwords are very important—one of several key security layers used to protect our sensitive data.

The first password I remember ever having to worry about came from a temp job in the early nineties–my first sustenance work as a NYC starving actor. I was hired to inventory the computer systems of a Bank of America corporate office and was assigned an account on their local area network (LAN) to record the inventory information I was to collect.

This was my first time logging into anything. The first time I needed a password for anything–there wasn’t even a password on my obsolete-the-day-I-bought-it Mac Classic.


 When I arrived for my first day of work at BofA, I was assigned a user ID along with the password “changeme”. I never followed the action hinted at in my new default password, however. For the entire three months I worked there it remained “changeme”. I can only speculate that the Bank of America of the time took computer security seriously—most definitely on their big iron systems (aka mainframes)—but no one had mentioned it to me.

1990’s… What are passwords?

It was a world of brick-sized cell phones, after all. The two previous decades, The Internet was a tool used by the US government, military, research labs and academia. In the early nineties, it was just beginning to percolate in the minds of budding, latter-century moguls. So it’s no small wonder little attention was paid to something as obscure as personal computing security and password best practices. IBM PC clones were just taking off in businesses, and online services like AOL, while increasing in popularity, were very niche. At the time, the most common “compute” power in the hands of us ordinary citizens was arguably the Nintendo Game Boy.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Internet-connected computers, smart phones and tablets are taken for granted and heavily relied upon. The Internet is used to communicate, shop, game, socialize, bank, stalk, date, troll, titillate, gamble and battle Pokemon while on the Go (come on, you know you do). It’s also a key inbound marketing tool for modern businesses.

Add the Internet of Things (IoT) to the mix–connected cars, appliances, HVACs, lighting and more–and the importance of cybersecurity can never, ever be stressed enough. The day we develop a true mind/computer interface (I0tM – Internet of the Mind?), it’s almost guaranteed our brains will be up for grabs by the opportunistic hacking elite. Scary thought.

So what can we do to keep our identities and sensitive data as safe as possible? The first step is to develop good habits around cybersecurity. Over the next five posts, I will focus on 5 good habits for password safety.

Next up… Good Password Habits # 1: Use STRONG passwords