You have a strong password, right? I mean, you have been using your standard password for several years, and it hasn’t been hacked yet, so of course you are safe. Wrong.
Many people operate under similar assumptions, only to find out that their password (and therefore their data!) is not secure. Test for yourself to see if you have a strong password here: https://howsecureismypassword.net/
Hopefully, you have a highly complex password that would take years for a computer to crack. However, the unfortunately reality is that many users do not use complex passwords because they are not easy to remember. Believe it or not, it is easier than you think to have a strong password, and you don’t even need to be an IT professional to do so! There are several steps that you can (should!) take to make sure that your password is safe:
- Use a unique password. Make sure that you use different passwords for different accounts. Make sure that the password that you use for LinkedIn is different than your Facebook password, or even your Office 365 password. That way, if one of those accounts gets compromised, your exposure is limited to just that service.
- Don’t reuse passwords. By reusing passwords, you increase the likelihood that someone will be able to hack into your account.
- Don’t write your passwords down. If you want someone to know your password, write it on a post it note and put it under your mouse pad, or maybe even your monitor. The janitorial staff see these passwords every day. It may be convenient to write your passwords down, but it makes them incredibly less secure.
- Don’t share your password. This may sound obvious, but far too many people casually share passwords with others, without thinking of the impact. If you do need to share your password, change it as soon as possible.
- Be random. If your password follows a pattern (Like using Facebook2018!# as a password to your Facebook account and LinkedIn2018!# for your LinkedIn account), then it makes things much simpler for would be attackers. Use a random password. It can be harder to remember, but there are tools to help with that.
- Go long. The longer you can make your password, the better. Every increase in length makes your password exponentially more difficult for a hacker to be able to crack it. Your password should be a minimum of 8 characters, or preferably 12 characters.
- Be complex. Simple passwords are easy to crack using dictionary attacks. Add some complexity to your passwords by using numbers, upper case letters and symbols. There are many tools and websites that can help you to create a random, strong, complex password. For example: https://passwordsgenerator.net/
- Use Multi Factor Authentication. By enabling MFA on your accounts, it makes it much more difficult for an attacker to gain access to your data. Usually MFA requires another code, in addition to your password, that is generated by an app, SMS or software that only you have access to. Most online services offer some form of Multi Factor Authentication these days, and it doesn’t cost anything to use it. Enabling MFA can prevent hackers from logging into your account, even if they have your password.
- Use a Password Manager. Keeping track of and remembering all of these unique, long, complex passwords can be overwhelming. However, by using a secure Password Manager like LastPass or KeePass (that supports MultiFactor Authentication!), you can easily manage all of your passwords and accounts.
All of these tips can help you to have a more secure environment, keeping your private information from hackers. Please share these tips… just don’t share your passwords!