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Online Banking
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Online banking is a great improvement over opening bills, tearing off the section you fill in, writing the check, putting on a stamp, mailing it in -- and then waiting until the end of the month to see if they all arrived at their destinattion, cleared the bank, then balance your checkbook.

That said, I'm very careful. First, although I access my checking and savings accounts online, I don't pay my bills all at the online bank (though I could and the credit union has urged me to do so every time I sign on).

I don't like the idea that all of my accounts' information and passwords would be gathered in one place. If the bank's computer system were to be hacked--and yes, it has happened--all of my linked accounts would be vulnerable. I could not afford to have that happen.

So, instead, I have set up payment processes with each of the places I make payments: gas company, utilities company, credit card company, county tax assessor, and so forth. That way, if any one were to be compromised, the others would remain untouched.

And I use different usernames and passwords for each one. I am a fanatic about passwords, making complex passwords and guarding them the way a dragon guards its treasure. It's a little more work to pay bills twice a month, but worth the payoff in security.

One of my favorite ways to make a password is to take a memorable sentence, such as

tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day

and make it into a password, thus

tatatcitppfd2d [just try pronouncing it ;-)]

and of course it's easy for me to remember, but fairly hard for a hacker to break.

Another favorite trick of mine for number codes is to have a word (I'm not saying what it is) with 10 non-repeating letters, assign a digit 0-9 to each one, then remember the letters. I even write them down, because who knows what they stand for....

It's rather like a game. I hope the good guys win.

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