Read the Tagalog Version of this article: Ang Pag-iingat Sa Iyong Financial Accounts




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I’m sure you’ve learned a lot from my previous articles. We learned how important and how to budget properly, how to build and create our emergency fund, and how to plan our financial life goals. We also learned the different types of investment instruments and its application to real life (UITF, Mutual Funds, and Stocks Investment). Now we will take some rest on tough topics and issues concerning to investment. Of course the thing we will tackle now is of great value, but despite of being valuable, it is often ignored by others. The topic is how we will protect our financial accounts. As much as we value our money, we must equally value our email, social accounts, and most especially our financial and online bank accounts. Since, we are living in a hi-technologies era and most of the things can be done “online”, I will teach you some “best practices” to preserve and avoid being robbed not only of money but also of your very identity through Internet.


Wait a minute, what was my password again? …


Have you experienced asking this to yourself once you log in your email or any forum or in any of your social account? With the amount of sites that would require for a registration of your username and password, I’m sure anyone of us tend to use a consistent or similar username and password. Well, this happened to me too. There was a time when I was not able to login even I tried all the possible passwords that I used to know. I, later on, learned that I have created a new password to secure my account but it turned out that even I can’t recall it. I labored more because of this (LOL!). There is also another incident that I forgot my password to access my BDO (Bank) account online. And this required me to call their customer service and have them unlock and reset my accounts password. Whew! …:)

This gave me a pretty good lesson. Well, according to a Filipino proverb “A written note is always better than a good memory”. And since we are living in a computer age now, one may use not just an ink pen. We now have computer applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel. Thus, if I created a new account, I immediately list it down on my spread sheet file to avoid the same incident.
protecting

Usernames and Passwords… Hmmm… How about using a Passphrase?


Let’s now begin to organize your usernames and passwords. Okay class, in this lesson, we need to use an MS Excel spread sheet. But before we proceed on editing the file, first I will teach you how to make strong password that cannot be easily hacked.

A “strong” password should be composed of letters, numbers and special characters. And it should be at least 8 characters. It’s hard to instantly think of a password every time you are asked to register from a site right? Our tendency is to use the same password on every registration that we submit on different sites. The cons are, once your account is hacked, for sure you will even lose your identity. You might say, “Oh it’s okay, it’s just an e-mail, no big deal, I’ll just create another one.”. Maybe it’s not a big problem if that is the case. But what if you are using the same password on your online bank accounts and passwords? Now that’s a big deal! Because you might not only lose your identity, but you might also lose your hard-earned money as well!

Did you know that many people are being hacked because they did not know how to make a more secure and stronger password? Some even use the word “password” for their password. (Want to know the 10 most commonly used passwords? Click here). That should not be. We need to keep our passwords.

And this is Green Stickman™’s tip for you to create passwords. Instead of inventing, it’s better to do it this way. We will create a password using a “pass phrase”.

A passphrase should be something you can recall easily. Example we have a pass phrase that goes something like this:

I have subscribed to the Green Stickman’s newsletter last June 12!

We are not going to use the whole sentence or phrase as our password like other people do. Instead let’s just drop down all of the first character of each word, numbers and character. From our pass phrase:

I have subscribed to the Green Stickman’s newsletter last June 12!

From here we have built a password: IhstGSnlJ12!

Cool isn’t it? We just build a strong password!

Let’s try once more:

I will go back to Philippines from Hong Kong this January1!

From the pass phrase, we can then create something like this: IwgbtPfHKtJ1!

Surely it is something a hacker cannot be easily decode right? It is a completely super strong password because of the capital and small letters, numbers and even special characters. And it not related to your birthday or the name and birthday of your loved ones.

In generating a passphrase, you should have its 4 parts. Usually it contains the four questions who, what, where, when? Go for something easier for you to remember.

Now that you know how to make a strong password, we’re not done yet. We can end by putting suffix character to recognize to which account it will be. For example we used the password to your yahoo mail:

IhstGSnlJ12!ym

or to your Facebook account:

IhstGSnlJ12!fb

or to your BPI express online account:
IhstGSnlJ12!bpi

Did you get the idea? We will add a “suffix” of 2 to 4 characters depending on how you like to correlate your password to your account.


Protecting Your Accounts and Passwords using Excel

Now, I want you to create 3 sheets in an excel file. The first sheet is renamed as “BANK ACCOUNTS”. The second sheet is renamed as “SOCIAL SITES”. And the last sheet is renamed as “E-MAIL ACCOUNTS”. To easily recall, remember this:

“1 for the MONEY, 2 for the FRIENDS, and 3 for all the E-MAILS you send.”

On each sheet, you put something like this on top:
accounts

For which will be the previous password1, password2 previous and previous password3? This is because there are cases that you need to reset the password after a certain time. This is to track the passwords that you already used. There are institutions where you are not allowed to use the same old password for security reasons. Therefore it will be more advantageous to prepare two or three passphrase for each sheet (or you may use these 3 passphrases for each of your sheets).

You can also put your details in the first worksheet, your ATM account, credit cards, security questions, and many others related to your financial accounts. Do the same as well as in the second sheet (SOCIAL ACCOUNTS) and third sheets (E-MAIL Accounts)

Now that we’ve organized our usernames and passwords (as well as your other essentials credentials like passbook number, passport details, etc.) in our Excel Worksheet, we must also protect it so that it cannot be opened easily by anyone. To do this, we will create password on our excel file. Just follow these steps:

  1. Click the File -> Save As
  2. Now you’ll see this: Simply click the General Options…
    excel
  3. There appears a General Options pop-up and asked for the “Password to open” and “Password to modify”. Fill both fields. Your password to open is for opening the file while the other is to modify or edit the file.
    General
  4. Again there appears another window box to confirm all your passwords.
  5. test this by closing the file and opening it again.
  6. You should be prompted by a window box asking for your password to open and edit your file.

Are you done? You now have an Excel file that is password protected. Please test it carefully. This is mine, you can try to open it by clicking it here. :)

My password for that file is “test”. Try to open for you to have an idea what it should look like. :)

If you’re through with testing, you need to attach it to your e-mail in case you need to get and access it online. If you have only one e-mail account, you have to create another one. If opt not, send it to yourself. Once you received, place this to a mail folder. In this way you may “organized” your mails.

Our problem now is if you’re updating of the passwords or you have to add other accounts. Here, you will realize that it’s better if your file is synchronized (I personally experience this) like in a cloud storage service such as DropBox or Google Drive.

If you already have a Dropbox account, it is better to put a copy of the Excel file there. For any circumstances that you have to edit the file you’re sure that it’s always updated and you can still access it online unlike if you stored it to your personal laptop / PC or a USB mass storage device. No need to worry of it being stolen, or attack by a virus and had to be formatted. Better to have this base from my personal experience. My phone was stolen, and I was able to retrieve my personal files like the excel sheet for my accounts and passwords, as well as our important pictures and videos of my son. It is because I “sync” my smart phone to my DropBox account. So I personally recommend having a cloud account like Dropbox. If you do not have DropBox account, try to sign-up here: DropBox .

If you had an account here, you can synchronize your files from your phone and PC to your DropBox account in a cloud server anytime so long that you have an internet connection.

There are also password managers or password management tools software out there, but I do not have any recommendations from now. I’m still not using it. I’m satisfied how I made my Excel File storage and syncing it to my e-mail and Dropbox account. But in case I find something or other means, I surely will share with you what the best options for it.

By the way, another tip, if you are not using your personal, especially if you are using one from computer shop, make sure to logged out unto your accounts before you leave. And make sure that you clear the browsing history of the browser. If you use Google Chrome, it’s easy to clear the history and cookie by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Del keys on the keyboard.
protecting
Alright! It’s another level up for you! You did not just improve your means of keeping your financial, social and email accounts and passwords, but you level up on being “tech savvy” too. You now know how password protect your file, synced this through Drop Box. And of course, cleared the browsing history and cached cookies! :)

Let’s end here for now. Hopefully you will now be able to organize well your usernames and passwords in an Excel file. It may be tedious task in the beginning but it has the long lasting benefits for you.

Remember, it’s hard to earn and save money but hardest when your hard-earned money will be gone in a wink of an eye (if a “snatcher” stole your money, there is still something you can do like report them to an officer or follow the snatcher and take a blow on his face. But hackers are different, most of the time, they are very difficult to trace). So be very careful on your financial accounts always. Remember that your identity and finances relies on this. If bad people are upgrading their knowledge and skills to take advantage and steal, then it gives us more reasons to do so in order to protect ourselves from them.

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