by: Danielle Howard
Though many of our smart devices have facial recognition and fingerprint technology to help us protect our personal information, the majority of us are still keeping a log of all of our passwords. Yes, plural… passwords!
In today’s digital world, nearly everything is connected to the internet. Rightly so, many websites and apps require passwords to help provide a layer of security for when you need to do things like log into your bank or investment accounts, check your email, pay a bill, file your taxes, or obtain your medical records – just to name a few.
Other times, passwords help provide convenient user experience by retaining less sensitive data to help us do things quickly, or without having to recall details. As a mom of two children under three years old, my time is very limited. Using a password to log into my Kroger app allows me to add all of our regular groceries to a cart, pay, schedule a pick-up or delivery time, and turn what used to be an hour-long shopping trip into maybe five minutes. Now, if that’s not an example of convenience and efficiency, I don’t know what is?! The same idea can be applied to ordering your regular coffee or favorite sub, as well as manage your home security system, thermostat, lights, etc.
If you stop and think about it, the power of one single password is really quite amazing! But consider the damage that can be done if your password is easily hacked or in the hands of the wrong person. Creating a strong password is an essential part of protecting yourself online and minimizing your chances of identity theft.
Here are 8 simple tips to help you create strong passwords, and keep them organized in a safe and secure place.
- Use a long passphrase.
Consider using the longest passphrase permitted. Passphrases can be a news headline, book title, song title, etc. Then add punctuation and capitalization to make it even stronger.
- Don’t make passwords easy to guess.
Avoid using personal information in your passwords such as your name, family names, or pets names. This information is easy to find on social media, making it easier for cybercriminals to hack your accounts.
- Avoid using common words in your password.
Try substituting letters with numbers and punctuation marks or symbols. Common substitutions include: @ = A, ! = I or L, and 3 = E. Using this methodology, the password “LakeFenton” would be considered more secure as “!@k3F3nton.”
- Get creative.
Use phonetic replacements, such as “PH” instead of “F.” Or make deliberate and obvious misspellings.
- Keep your passwords on the down-low.
Do NOT share your passwords with anyone! Stay alert to recognize emails or calls from attackers who are good at tricking you into sharing your passwords. Every time you share or reuse a password, it chips away at your security by opening up more opportunities for identity theft.
- Unique account, unique password.
Using a different password for each website or app you visit helps prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your information. Mix things up! Figure out an easy-to-remember way to customize your standard password for different sites.
- Double your login protection.
Enable multi-factor authentification (MFA) whenever possible. MFA uses a trusted mobile devise, such as your smartphone, to add an additional layer of security when you try to log into your account. MFA makes it more difficult for unauthorized people to log in as the account holder.
- Utilize a password manager.
With just one master password, a password manager can generate and securely retrieve passwords for every account you have. Do your research to find a secure password manager with excellent ratings.
For more information about National Cyber Security Awareness Month, click here. #BeCyberSmart