Your personal cybersecurity starts with creating better passwords. One bad password can expose all of your personal information by compromising important accounts, and if you’re using the same password over and over again, you’re setting yourself up for even bigger problems.
Creating better passwords isn’t difficult when you know a little about the process. In this guide, we’ll cover seven tips to help improve your password security and keep your personal information safe. Don’t take the security of your online accounts for granted!
1. Don’t Use Personal Info
While this may seem like an obvious tip, most people actually use personal information in their passwords to make them easier to remember. Names and personal dates are easier to remember, but they’re also easier to figure out. Someone close to you that knows your name, birthday, and address can potentially gain access to any of your accounts with the right guess.
Or, if you lose something like a driver’s license, passport, or bill, someone can easily get personal information and break their way into your accounts. The bottom line? Don’t use personal info in your passwords.
Passwords should contain no familiar phrases, names, or dates. Use completely random phrases, numbers, and symbols for infinitely safer passwords!
2. Use A Password Manager
Apps like Keeper offer a free password manager to help organize and secure all of your passwords in one place. Password managers are a much more secure way to manage your passwords, as they won’t be stored in Word or Google Doc files or written down on notebook paper.
A good password manager can also help you create more secure passwords with a password generator. You’ll get reminders about old passwords and even a prompt to log in to websites that have a password associated with them.
Greater security, the ability to generate better passwords, greater organization, and peace of mind…what’s not to love here?
3. Stop Giving Out Your Passwords
Stop giving out your passwords. Many of us treat our passwords like candy; handing them out to the people around us without thinking about it first (I mean, do you really want to share your chocolate bar with everyone?). This usually happens with things like streaming services or social media accounts, two of the most important accounts you have access to.
Why are those two so important? Because something like a Facebook account can grant the user access to dozens of other accounts. You can log in to just about any website with a Facebook account as long as it’s connected to the site. Facebook can also store credit card information, as does your Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ streaming account(s).
So, the next time you decide to give out your Netflix account to the new dorm-mate, think again. Especially if you don’t know the person well. You have a bank account or card of some sort tied to the account, and if the wrong person gets that information…
4. Unique Passwords, Not Duplicates
You’d be amazed by how many people use the same password or same few passwords for just about every online account they have. And what’s worse, many of these passwords contain persona information, making it that much easier for someone to guess one or more passwords.
The more unique your passwords are, the better. You should be using different passwords for each online account. Yes, every account! I guess you’ll need to start changing passwords then!
The key to creating unique passwords is eliminating personal information. Use unique phrases that have nothing to do with your life, and always include a selection of random numbers and symbols. For example, a strong password looks like this:
According to passwordmeter.com, this password gets a 100% “very strong” rating. Notice how no personal phrases, names, or dates are used; only random assortments of numbers and irrelevant phrases and symbols. Just one uppercase letter in a password can boost its strength significantly!
5. Update Your Passwords
Don’t forget that your passwords should be changed and updated at least once per year, or more if you can. This is often tedious work, but what’s more tedious and costly is trying to reclaim your life after a cybercriminal has stolen your information!
Multi-factor-authentication simply means linking a phone number and/or email to your account. When a breach is suspected, the person responsible will be blocked from accessing the account by the MFA feature. You’ll get a notification about a strang log in, as well as a unique code to get you into your account.
7. Long Passwords
Shorter passwords are much easier to access than longer ones. Let’s look at these two passwords:
Which password do you think would be easier to guess? The more characters the hacker has to guess, the harder it is to do so, and the longer it takes!