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Hack-proof your life: 5 key steps to boost your safety online

At this moment, someone wants your information. Hackers covet your email account, your home address, and your social security number. They want to commandeer your webcam and break into your bank account. They are just waiting for you to slip up and give them a chance.

Everywhere you look, malevolent coders are finding backdoors and vulnerabilities. There are simple ways to protect yourself. But where do you start?

Follow these five steps to boost your safety online instantly.

1. Passwords

I’ve heard it a million times: “I know that I shouldn’t use the same password at every site, but I do” or “Every time I set a new password, I forget it.”

Well, get over it. Relying on a weak password is asking to be hacked. Your passwords are either your first line of defense against hackers, or they’re an open window that lets them slip through. In cyber-security, there is no middle ground.

How dangerous is it? A lowercase, six-character password takes a hacker around 10 minutes to figure out. Add four more characters, and you extend the time of that heist by 45,000 years.

Ready to give your passwords the strength of Fort Knox? Here’s a quick to-do:

Create a unique and complex password that isn’t hard to remember. One trick is a “passphrase,” which is both a statement and a complex series of characters, cases, and numbers. Make a phrase that’s specific to you like, “MySonWasBornOnAug12!”

Change your password regularly, but not too often. I recommend that you change your password at least once every 12-month period. If one of the services you use is involved in a data breach, you’ll want to update your password for that account.

I wrote an entire tip about tools and tricks to remember hard-to-guess passwords. Click here for the best solutions to remember difficult passwords.

Next page: Two-factor authentication, and three more ways to boost online security

Protect your phone from secret spyware
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