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We are living in a digitally-connected world where access to important Internet resources are dependent on users providing proper authentication (e.g., a password). The design and management of passwords make a huge difference in whether you can securely access data, communicate with your friends, or make purchases online. You often hear that you should create strong passwords and protect them, but this can seem difficult. It isn’t!
The following tips can help you create strong and secure passwords:
Never Share Your Password with Anyone
You should never give your password to anyone, even your relatives or longtime friends. You never know, that friend might just accidentally leak your password, or they may not stay your friend forever and abuse it (by sharing).
Don’t Use a Single Password for All Accounts
With countless viruses and hackers looking to exploit computer and network weaknesses, you should create a unique password for every account you make on different online platforms. Otherwise, if one password is stolen, all the other accounts may also fall prey to compromise.
Make Passwords that are Easy to Remember, but Hard for Others to Guess
Where possible, you can use an entire phrase that is important to you or use initials and add numbers or special characters to make a password of it. Some sites may even allow you to use the entire phrase as a password. Example could be: ‘I love cake’ as ‘!l0v3c@k3’
Make Passwords at Least Eight Characters Long
The longer a password, the stronger it gets. It is much more difficult for hackers to crack longer passwords.
Include Numbers, Capital Letters, and Symbols
You can use a $ instead of S or 1 instead of L, or you can include & or %. It becomes difficult to crack passwords that contain symbols and numbers as compared to those which contain only letters.
Do Not Use Dictionary Words
Avoid using words straight from the dictionary, because if the word is in a dictionary, it may be easily hackable. There is a popular process among hackers known as “brute force” that uses a dictionary to guess the words used in passwords.
Don’t Keep Passwords in Plain Sight
This might seem like an unnecessary tip, but often many people write their passwords on sticky notes and leave them on their monitors. If you really need to write the password down, you should keep it in a place that no one can access or easily see.
Use a Password Manager
There are web services or programs available that allow you to create and store all of your passwords for each of your sites. Then you will only have to remember one password that can be used to access the program that stores all of your passwords.
Use Multifactor Authentication
Many web services and websites offer two-factor option to verify users prior to authorizing access to their account. The common method for this is that you receive a text message to your registered mobile device (or email) with a code that you enter to verify that it is you who is accessing the site. Sign up for multifactor authentication if available.
Don’t Fall for Phishing Attacks
You should be very careful when opening a link, (even from a legitimate website) that asks you to log in, change your password, or provide your personal information. You might not know if is legitimate or a phishing scam. With a phishing scam, whatever information you enter goes directly to the hacker. Always verify the website is legitimate before entering any sensitive information.
Make Sure Your Devices Are Secure
Even if you create the best password in the world, it won’t do you any good if there is someone looking over your shoulder as you type in the password. There are many types of malicious software, like keyboard loggers that make a record of your keystrokes, that aid hackers in password theft. You should make sure that your operating system is updated, and that your device is running up-to-date anti-malware and anti-virus software.
Use a Password or Fingerprint on your Phones
Most phones can be locked, and the only way to access it is by entering a code, or maybe a pattern. Some phones have integrated a new technology of registering your fingerprint, or facial image, and require it to unlock the phone.
It is always best to have passwords that are strong enough to keep your information away from hackers. It is also very important to keep your strong passwords private and well-managed to help ensure your accounts aren’t hacked. Everyone is advised to follow the tips mentioned and secure passwords from inadvertent disclosures and abuses.