In this day and age, hacking is increasingly common, and you need to work harder to protect your personal information. A password is typically your best defense, but only if you use it effectively. Here are some tips to help ensure your passwords are foolproof:
What NOT to do:
• Don’t base your password on known personal information, such as your birthday, child or pet’s name, address, or phone number. This information is easily accessed and sets you up for vulnerability.
• Don’t use dictionary words. Meaning, if the word can be found in the dictionary, hackers can easily identify it with software that searches for common words or phrases.
• Don’t use the same password across platforms. This puts all your data at risk in the event your password ends up in the wrong hands.
• Don’t leave your password out for others to see, such as on your desk.
What TO do:
• Instead of spelling out a word in your password, create a memory technique that decodes it. The following example from US-CERT shows how you can do this:
“…instead of the password “hoops,” use “IlTpbb” for “[I] [l]ike [T]o [p]lay [b]asket[b]all.” Using both lowercase and capital letters adds another layer of obscurity. Changing the same example used above to “Il!2pBb.” creates a password very different from any dictionary word.”
• Make your password as long as possible, ideally 16 or more characters.
• Implement two-factor authentication on any accounts that make this feature available. This means that you will enter your password, then you will also receive a random code (typically via text, email or phone call) as the second step.
• If you use a public computer, remember to log out of all accounts so a stranger can’t access it.
• Avoid accessing personal information, such as banking or email, on public Wi-Fi, as hackers can tap into public networks and access your password and other information.
While no one is invincible, following these tips will help you strengthen your passwords. The stronger the password, the more protected you may be from cyber crimes.