It seems that there isn’t an app, website, or device that we can sign into without the use of a password. While we all inherently know the importance of passwords, it’s not unheard of for us to cut corners now and then. Sometimes we might reuse the same password for unimportant accounts, or we may choose unsavory character combinations like ‘password’ or ‘123456’. However, lazy password practices are not advisable and can leave you vulnerable to attack, malware, or worse.
Rather than risk data corruption, take a look at our top ten methods for becoming a password master to protect your systems and services from infiltration and attack:
#1. Change passwords often.
Best practice states that you change all of your passwords every 90 days, however, every 60 days has shown to be more effective. When you change your passwords, be sure that you are not reusing a password from six months or a year ago. It can be helpful to set up a rotating schedule for password renewal and management.
#2. The longer, the better.
Passwords should be between 8-16 characters. Keep in mind that the longer the password, the harder it is to crack. Try to use passphrases rather than passwords for ultimate security.
#3. Use a password manager.
Whether you choose LastPass, Keeper, or KeePass, just be sure not to lose your password for this all-important account. Misplacing your LastPass password can spell disaster for the months ahead. Trust us, we know from experience.
#4. Use unique passwords for each account.
It can be tempting to use the same password for multiple accounts, but this is very unwise. If your password is sold online, the lucky patron will have access to every account using that email address and password. While it sounds unlikely, passwords being discovered happens much more often than you would think.
#5. Never share accounts.
Whether it is banking, social media, or Amazon, you should never share accounts. We know, it can be tempting to share your Netflix password, but each time you give someone your password you are putting yourself at risk.
#6. Use password generators.
If the thought of long strings of random characters and numbers makes you sigh with despair, you’re not alone. However, password generators are the safest password method available. Try to use them whenever your personal or financial information is involved.
#7. Never include personal information in your passwords.
It can be tempting to use kids, pets, and sports team names in your password, but this is much easier to hack. Instead, use random phrases that are easy to remember but almost impossible to guess.
#8. Always log out of accounts when using other devices.
Whenever traveling or borrowing a device from a friend, be sure to log out of all of your accounts. Recently on a trip, I logged into my Amazon account and forgot to log back out. It was weeks before I realized that someone was watching my Prime account. It could, however, have been much worse.
#9. Use two-factor authentication.
Whenever possible, activate the two-factor authentication option for your accounts. Hackers will then have to have your username, password, and device/code to access your personal information. Two-factor authentication drastically lowers your risk of being hacked.
#10. Be vigilant.
Be sure to keep a close eye on your accounts, finances, and your credit report. Quickly reporting any vulnerability can save you both time and money.