Passwords are an essential component to your (online) daily life. We use them to check our online mail, bank accounts, purchase items, etc. But how secure are your passwords? Do you, like many, use the same easy-to-guess password everywhere you go?
Unless you arm yourself with the right passwords, you might as well have none at all. Here are some helpful tips to make sure you stay secure.
Choose Strong Passwords
Want to take a guess at the most popular passwords? According to the Imperva Application Defense Center, it’s the numbers “123456” or the word “password” itself. This means that any cybercriminal who’s looking to hack into your account will likely start there. Why send them an open invitation?
Sure, everyone likes passwords that are easy to remember. But you wouldn’t leave your home open and unlocked simply because that’s easier to do than remembering to keep your keys with you. Strong passwords, just like strong locks, deter criminals. Use them.
Tip: Consider mixing a series of letters and numbers, both lower and uppercase. Special characters like asterisks can help as well if they’re permissible. The longer the series, the more secure your password will be. Try for at least eight characters minimum, if possible.
Use Different Passwords
A strong password won’t be very effective if you use the same one everywhere and someone gains access to it. Don’t think it can’t happen. Prying eyes are everywhere. Malware in the form of keystroke loggers can steal your current passwords without you realizing it.
Having a variety of strong passwords is an important key to remaining secure online. Should someone find or guess one of yours, it would be far better if it only unlocks one site rather than everything you have online.
Tip: Variety is the spice of life! Choose different passwords for every site you visit. Never use the same password for your separate bank or credit card accounts.
Never Reveal Your Passwords
You know that email you just received from your “credit card company”—the one asking you to type in your password to check something? It’s completely bogus. The same applies to any other similar emails. No matter how convincing they may seem, ignore them.
These are nothing more than phishing emails, and they’re one reason why you have a delete button. Feel free to use it.
Tip: Stay sharp. Don’t be duped into revealing a password. Any company that would really need this information already has it. And should you find yourself in a situation where you must legitimately reveal a password—such as taking your computer in for repair—make sure you change the password afterwards.
Change Your Passwords Regularly
After months of trying, you’ve finally memorized that nonsensical series of letters and numbers. Congrats! Now it’s time to change your passwords. Is this to make your life difficult? No. It’s to make stealing your private information more difficult.
Tip: Occasionally swapping out your strong passwords isn’t fun. But it’s much easier than trying to put your life back together after someone has stolen your identity. Make things as hard as you can for cybercriminals. They’ll seek out easier targets—not you.