Have You Changed Your Password Lately?
A strong password is your first line of defense against cybercriminals. In fact, login credentials are some of the most sought-after data in phishing and hacking attempts. Why? Because once a criminal has your credentials, they can easily log into your online accounts, placing your finances, privacy, and reputation at risk.
You don’t have to make the work of cybercriminals easy though! Taking steps to ensure your passwords are hard to crack can make you a tougher target. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your passwords…it’s probably time to perform some updates. Check out these expert tips for keeping your passwords safe.
1. NEVER Reveal Your Password to Others
You probably wouldn’t give your ATM card or PIN number to a stranger, so why would you provide your username and password to anyone else? Your login credentials protect valuable information – just like a bank protects the money in your account. No one needs to know your passwords but you. If someone is asking for your password, it’s probably a scam.
2. Use Different Passwords for Different Accounts
It may seem simpler to use the same password for all of your accounts, but this makes you even more vulnerable to a cyberattack. Using different passwords ensures that most of your information stays safe, even if one account is compromised.
3. Length Trumps Complexity
This one may surprise you. The longer a password is, the better. Use at least 16 characters whenever possible.
4. Create Passwords That Are Hard to Guess, But Easy to Remember
This may sound impossible, but there are a few tricks to the trade:
- Use full sentences or phrases. For example, “breadandbutteryum” is a phrase that’s easy to remember, but long enough that it’s not easily hackable. Some systems will even let you use spaces: “bread and butter yum.”
- Avoid single words, or a word preceded or followed by a single number (e.g. Password1). Hackers will use dictionaries of words and commonly used passwords to crack it.
- Don’t use information in your password that others might know about you, or something that’s easy to glean from social media accounts (e.g. birthdays, children’s or pet’s names, car model, etc.). If your friends can find it, so will hackers.
5. Complexity Still Counts
To increase complexity, include upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. A password should use at least three of these choices. To make the previous example more secure, you could use: “Bread&butterYUM!”
6. Use a Password Manager
Password management tools, or password vaults, are a great way to organize your passwords. They store your passwords securely and may provide a way to back-up your passwords and synchronize them across multiple systems.