There was once a time, in the infancy of the internet, we may have only needed one password for the handful of related accounts. But with the ever-growing digital landscape, security vulnerabilities became more common, and thus how we used passwords also needed to evolve.
Cybercriminals are nothing new, but their abilities have grown over the years. This has required security protocols to adapt for these threats. While there are many ways in which an individual could ‘hacked’, or leave personal information vulnerable (always check credit card readers in public spaces), passwords remain one of the most vulnerable aspects of cyber security. Many institutions have even implemented ‘passphrase’ policies that have stricter requirements involving length and characters used.
There are some general tips we can use when setting up accounts and passwords so that we are less susceptible to attack. First, use different passwords for different accounts. If a hacker can figure out the password for one, more vulnerable account, they would then have access to all accounts that use the same password. Be sure, where available, to always turn on two-factor authentication. This will have an extra security layer to the login process, corroborating information like a phone number, fingerprint, or email address to avoid third-party access that would not know such information. It should be noted that if, after a password request, a company sends you the password fully in an email then they are not encryption and all data is vulnerable. Finally, look into a password manager. Using different password for different accounts can feel overwhelming and few people can remember the different ones they may have used. A manager can help autofill information as desired or keep info securely available for reference. This is more efficient than the long, unorganized text documents that some use to remember passwords. Google recently caught heat after admitting it stored password information in plaintext going back to 2005.
Do you have horror story about a stolen password? Have your online accounts ever been compromised? Sharing your experience can help others avoid similar mistakes. And remember, a post-it note next to your computer is not a good place to keep your password reminder.