Are My Passwords Strong Enough?How to Keep Your Accounts Secure
The easiest way to protect yourself from online hackers and malicious bots is to keep your accounts secure with strong passwords. Passwords need to be hard to guess using basic information about you (e.g. birthdays, addresses), different from all your other passwords, and not a common name or word that is in a dictionary (even if appended by a number).
The reason you need to make separate passwords for different services, no matter how strong your passwords are, is because nowadays it’s becoming less and less likely that a human hacker is going to be guessing your password. It is more and more likely that a bot (short for “robot”; coined to describe an automated program that runs over the internet) will be used to continuously run through common password configurations and even filter in personal data found online to increase the chances of guessing your password. Additionally, if one company/database is breached that includes your commonly used email address & password, bots will now use that combination everywhere else online & gain access to all accounts that use the same password. This information is then sold for identity & credit theft purposes.
This likely sounds overwhelming and nearly impossible to combat, but do not worry. There is always a way to protect yourself from these attacks.
Check out our list of most important ways to keep yourself and your information safe.
- Sign up for a password saving app. Ideally you research and pay for the service that meets your needs however free versions are available. This means you only need to remember one very strong password to open a website or mobile application that stores all your other passwords. And most have browser extensions that allow you to auto-fill your log-in information securely. If you use Apple products exclusively, you can utilize their password suggestions and Keychain password service. If you utilize Google Chrome and an Android phone, using Google’s password suggestions & credential saving feature can work well. However, both of these built-in & free services generally do not work well on phone apps, which is where a trusted 3rd party app can be helpful.
- Create strong passwords that contain non-personal information with lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters when possible.
- Do not make any two passwords the same, specifically when it comes to important websites such as banking, email or other sites with sensitive, proprietary information. In the unfortunate case that your password is somehow leaked (as we’ve seen is possible no matter how large or secure the company claims to be), this means your other accounts are not as susceptible to attack.
- Wherever possible, enable two-factor authentication and immediately report any suspicious behavior to any site you fear has been hacked.
- Act quickly if you fear account log-in information has been compromised. Change your password and contact the administrator or customer service. Additionally, never confirm log-in requests you did not initiate and report any strange messages you receive to your email or mobile phone.
Notice one piece of advice you may have heard in the past that is not listed here: changing your password on a regular basis. Regularly changing your password is not helpful if a strong, individual password is in place for all your important accounts.
Password protection services are ever changing and your needs may vary depending on your situation, residential or commercial. If you are looking for guidance on data protection for your small business, please reach out to us.
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