Every other day we’re hearing about another security breach online. Major brands like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Experian, have all experienced security attacks that have left customers private information in the hands of the wrong people.
Protecting your information doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Simple measures, like passwords, are often overlooked because they seem so trivial to our online presence. The average person uses the same one or two passwords (or PINs) with a few different variations. Most people are not aware that there are several common techniques for cracking passwords and that our accounts are susceptible because of simple passwords. With so many aspects of our lives now based online, it’s crucial to create better, stronger passwords.
Next time you’re creating an online account, here’s some advice for creating better passwords to keep your information safe.
As an example, it’s common for parents to use their children’s names or birth dates as passwords. Any hacker who knows what their doing can do a little research and find this information, leaving your accounts or workplace networks at risk.
In an ideal world, you should have a different password for every account you have. When you re-use passwords from site to site, you’re setting yourself up for a potential security breach. A savvy hacker can try copy and paste your password across many commonly used sites to access your accounts. The best passwords are the ones that are easy to remember, but hard to guess.
It’s often recommended that passwords should be more than 16 characters so that it’s less likely to be guessed by potential hackers. Consider creating passphrases as an option to keep your online accounts safe. Using five or more words with a mixture of capital and lowercase letters, spaces, symbols, and numbers are another option for an additional account and network security.
The average internet user has over 20 password protected accounts, often more if they own a website or business. When using a password manager, you can memorize one master password while the password manager creates strong passwords for the rest of your accounts. As you’re browsing the internet, it’s easy to add your login information to the password manager. Many password management systems offer two-factor authentication for extra security.
When you’ve forgotten your password and need to access your accounts, you answer those security questions that you set up when you created your account. Remember, good hackers can research those questions online, so it’s not difficult for a hacker to guess the answers. Even if the question is about what street you grew up on, it’s ok to make it up - you just have to remember the answer.
Even if you have created the strongest possible password, it’s still possible for your accounts to be compromised. Passwords are only one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. As internet users, being aware of our own password situations and current security breaches is the best way to protect personal information online.