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When we talk about not giving your password out to others, you should remember to keep it private, keep it safe, keep it secret, and keep it secure.

Who is it safe or unsafe to give my password to? I've had no problems giving it to iTunes or the App Store, but I don't know who else to trust

In this excerpt from Answercast #60, I look at how passwords work and what "not giving them out" means.

What is a password?

There's a little bit of a misconception going on here.

When you set up a password, you're setting up a username and a password to access an account or a service or a whatever. You then have to supply that password to that service.

In other words:

  • If you set up a username and password for Hotmail, then you must supply that username and password to Hotmail.

  • If you have a username and password set up for iTunes, then you need to supply that username and password when you access iTunes.

When we talk about not giving your password to other people or to other services, what we really mean is don't give your "Hotmail password" to somebody else. Don't give your "iTunes password" to somebody that isn't iTunes. Don't tell a friend. Don't tell your brother. Don't tell your family members. Keep it private. Keep it safe. Keep it secret. Keep it secure.

Unauthorized password use

The problem is that if somebody knows your password then they can go login to say the iTunes store without your permission and cause for example music to be purchased that you end up having to pay for - that they end up taking.

So, that's what's really meant by keeping your password secure. Don't give it anybody else. Only use it for the purpose, which that password was created for:

  • Use the iTunes password for iTunes;

  • Use the Hotmail password for Hotmail;

  • Use any of the other hundreds of passwords that we may all have for the specific service that password was created for - and nothing else.

And by the way, that also includes being very careful not to give your password to a phishing attempt that asks for your password via email. It may look like it's coming from Microsoft; it may look like it's coming from Apple. It's not. If it's asking for your password in email, it is a phishing attempt and you should not respond.

The passwords would be used only to login to the account for which that password was established and nothing else.

Article C5902 - October 10, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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1 Comment
Mark J
October 12, 2012 7:38 AM

And another piece of advice. It's better to use a different password for each service. Otherwise if someone somehow gets one of your passwords, they don't get the password to all of your accounts. See also Creating Good Passwords

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