To illustrate the importance of a good password, imagine you purchased a safe to store your life savings, gun, diamond engagement ring, or other valuables in. You are determined to secure it from robbers, so you buy a safe that is made of thick steel and hide the safe in a secret room. You know you’ll need to go in and out of the safe a lot and don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of having a locksmith come by to install a better lock, so you wrap the safe with the 3 inch chain and cheap padlock it came with. This is the equivalent to poor password hygiene on your online accounts. Here are a few tips to make sure you use the best password lock for your accounts.
1. Mix it up
When creating a password, use a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters like $!-*?%.
2. Use long passwords
Use a minimum of 8-16 characters. This will make it harder for hackers using software to cycle through combinations to arrive at the correct one.
3. Make your passwords impossible to guess
Hackers love when people use passwords like “12345”, or “abc123”, “password”.
They can also figure out passwords that contain easy to obtain information, like:
|your children’s names||pets names||phone number|
Use random passwords. If your computer operating system does not offer random password generation, you can use a random password generator, like Norton’s free password generator to easily create a difficult to crack password.
4. Use a unique passwords for each account
By using a unique password for every account, you mitigate the extent to how much damage a hacker can cause. Hackers are good at making educated guesses. If your email account password is “abc123”, they’ll just use your email address and the password to try out some other common accounts people use, like Facebook or Amazon. Online services get hacked from time to time. Avoid rolling out a welcome mat to hackers by taking the time to make each account’s password unique.
5. Use a password manager instead of writing passwords down
You’ve seen the movies where someone is trying to get into a computer, flips over the keyboard to find a scrap of paper with the password on it and they’re in! I’ve even seen notecards containing multiple passwords taped to desktops. Passwords are designed to keep your accounts secure, if you are advertising them for the world to see, it defeats the purpose and makes you easy prey.
6. One person, one account login & password ratio
Have you ever worked somewhere where everyone used the same cash register to checkout customers? At the end of the day, if the drawer does not balance, anybody could have messed it up or taken money.
The same goes for online accounts. Never share an account login with friends or family and by all means, when it comes to business accounts and systems, never ever ever have a shared login and password for everyone to use. Have a unique login and password for every single person using the system.
An added bonus is that when someone quits or is terminated, their account can be quickly deactivated.
7. Skip “getting to know you” style online quizzes
Online quizzes can be fun, but they also supply hackers with a lot of personal information. Have you ever noticed that many of these quizzes contain some of the same questions as your online account security questions? These quizzes can be used by all sorts of scammers, not just hackers.
Companies spend millions of dollars on firewalls, encryption, and secure access devices and it’s money wasted because none of these measures address the weakest link in the security chain: the people who use, administer, operate and account for computer systems that contain protected information.