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Technology Basics: Username

Technology Basics: Username

Every online account will inevitably ask you to create two different credentials: a username and a password, both of which need to be kept as secure as possible. But what exactly is a username used for, and why is it such an important part of computing? For this week’s tip, we’ll take a look at this credential.

What is a Username?
A username can basically be considered an extension of your identity for your online accounts. It’s something that you use to differentiate yourself from other users of various programs and services. When you signed up for an instant messaging username back when those were popular, you created something that you could use to show others on the Internet who you were and what you were about.

This is mostly on a personal level, however. There is a more business and security-oriented side of the coin, too. The same principle of identification is present here, but it’s made for more of an authentication purpose. Are you who you really say you are? A username is half of the security credentials used for online accounts.

What Are They Used For?
Usernames are primarily used for identification and authentication, whereas passwords are meant to provide a more secure means of accessing the accounts tied to the specified username. A username is generally used to log into a specific account, although some sites might simply use your email address. They are the standard credential used by just about any online account.

Building a Strong Username
It’s not as important to have a strong username as it is to have a strong password, but it can still make things more difficult for hackers and identity thieves if your username is something obscure, at best. Generally speaking, usernames are either created by the user themselves or generated automatically by the email address they are tied to. If you have the option of making your own username, you can make them something that you will easily remember, but something that’s not necessarily easy to guess by others. If you’re talking about a username on your local network, it’s likely that your organization has a policy regarding usernames that makes them nice and easy to both identify and implement. For financial accounts where your username doesn’t need to represent you, and it’s better to have a little more anonymity, you should try to use something that doesn’t immediately identify you.

In cases like this, we want to remind you of the importance of having a strong password. Often times, the username will be easy to guess, making the password that much more important. Computerware can help your organization augment its network security and implement security best practices. To learn more, reach out to us at (703) 821-8200.

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