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15 Tips for Better Password Protection

Do not store your passwords or master password in your email, or, on your computer in a text file, even if that text file is password protected.

Password protection is a crucial part of cyber security that not only impacts the security of business websites, but also personal information for anyone using the Internet.

Yet, many of us don’t take it as seriously as we should. The convenience and expediency of using easy-to-remember passwords, or, not changing passwords for a long period of time will, sooner or later, compromise your online security. Despite the risks, we have all been guilty of this.

As hackers continue to become more and more sophisticated in their means of stealing information our risks will continue to increase. Although there is no guarantee of a completely fail-safe solution, there are a number of things that you can do to drastically lower the risk of password theft and the catastrophe that could follow.

  1. Do not use the same password for more than one account login.
    If hackers get ahold of a password from one account, they can get into all of your accounts with that same password.
  2. Use a password manager.
    Use a password manager to help generate secure, random passwords that you won’t have to remember on your own, except for one very secure master password. Once you are logged in with the master password, some password managers will automatically, and securely, fill in your hard-to-remember passwords for you.

    If you would still like to create your own passwords, some password managers will let you know if two of your accounts have the same password, or, if a password is too weak. Many password managers will prompt you when it’s time to change your password for any given account. Password managers can also help you share passwords securely.

    There are a number of password managers available that are inexpensive, and, some are even free of any cost.
  3. Protect your master password.
    If you use a password manager, either memorize the master password, or, write it down and keep it in a safe place.
  4. Do not use dictionary terms.
    Password-cracking tools often scan through dictionary terms and will try commonly-used passwords such as “password” or “mypassword”. If you must use a dictionary term, disguise it by mixing in capital letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. $Dict10NaryT3rm$!
  5. Do not use common sequences.
    Do not use numbers that are in sequence, such as, “12345”, or, letters that are in alphabetical order, such as, “ABCDE.” Do not use letters that are adjacent on the keyboard, such as, “asdfgh.”
  6. Use longer passwords.
    Longer passwords are more secure. With each character, your security will increase exponentially.
  7. Do not use personal information.
    Don’t use your name, birthdate, or any other easy-to-find personal information as part of your password. Some of this information can easily be lifted from social media accounts, or, from searching your name in Google. Instead, when prompted for an answer to a security question, “What is your mother’s maiden name?” create an answer that is just as difficult to hack as a secure password. “$T1nt164ulat10n!”
  8. Log out when you are finished working.
    Each time you are done working with an account, log out.
  9. Don’t allow your browser to save your passwords.
    You are putting yourself at risk if you allow your browser to save your passwords. If your computer is hacked or stolen, it would be easy to get into each and every one of these accounts.
  10. Don’t save passwords to your device.
    Do not store your passwords or master password in your email, or, on your computer in a text file, even if that text file is password protected. These files can easily be hacked into and all of your information could end up in the wrong hands.
  11. Only log into secure websites.
    Look for the lock symbol, “https://” and the word “secure” in the address bar of your browser. This means the website you are working with is encrypted.
  12. Change your passwords.
    Simply put, changing your passwords more often will keep your accounts more secure. If you use simple, easy to remember passwords (not recommended), you are at a much higher risk and should change those a lot more often. The longer in length and more difficult the password, the less likely you are to be hacked. So, if you have long, random, alpha-numeric passwords with symbols, then you would technically be safer for a longer period of time.
  13. Set up additonal 2-factor authentication.
    Whenever possible, set up 2-factor authentication for your accounts. An example of this is when you try to log into an account and are prompted to retrieve a passcode via email or text. This will add an extra level of security when logging in.
  14. Have a very strong email password.
    Make sure your email has a strong password because email programs are typically what you tend to use as a password or recovery system for your other accounts. If your email is compromised, your other accounts could follow.
  15. Do not share usernames and passwords through one device.
    If you must share your username and password, send those separately through more than one device. For example, send the username through one means, such as an email, and send the password through another means, such as a text.

Again, there are no fail-safe methods of storing passwords, but, following these steps will greatly reduce your chances of having your passwords stolen. Doing so may seem tedious, but will be a minor inconvenience compared to what could happen if you don’t.

 

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