PORTLAND -- Computer passwords have become part of our identity. We use them every day to access email, Facebook and banking information.

Computer experts warn that a simple password could be the key for criminals to unlock your bank account, your work email or access the accounts of your friends and family.

It's never just us. We are all in this together in a lot of ways, because if your information gets compromised, there is a good chance my information gets compromised as well, said Ken Westin of the Portland-based computer security firm Tripwire.

Researchers determined the most common passwords include: 123456 , 123456789 , and password . Often- people make the mistake of using the same password for several websites.

It is a matter of convenience. We always have to weigh security with convenience, and unfortunately, in most cases, convenience will win, said Westin.

The computer safety expert recommended that people avoid using passwords with information that's posted on public profiles like their hometown, birth date or the name of pets or children.

If someone is really targeting you, or really wants to get at your information, those are the first things they are going to try, said Westin.

Passwords should:

  • - Include 10 or more characters
  • - Include a random mix of upper and lower case letters
  • - Use special characters
  • - Be changed regularly

Ken Westin of Tripwire suggests one way to manage your varied passwords is to use a program to consolidate and protect them. Here is a list of programs he recommends:





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