Data breaches make headlines no matter how big or small they are. Just the idea of having your personal information and login credentials — that are supposed to be secure — fall into the wrong hands is frightening.
Once a criminal has stolen your data, they can do all kinds of unthinkable things with it. For example, they can drain your bank accounts, open lines of credit in your name and even steal your identity.
As responsible consumers, it’s up to each of us to take proactive measures to protect our information when the inevitable happens. Although we’re powerless to prevent breaches, that doesn’t mean we can’t mitigate the harm.
That’s where smart password creation and management comes in. Here are some password-related tips that can help keep you safe online. Save 50% on RoboForm Everywhere and manage your passwords with ease and security.
Stop using the same password over and over
Re-using a password is like using the same key for multiple locks and giving it to multiple people. If hackers get their hands on one of your passwords, you can bet they will check to see if it works on other sites, too.
That’s why it’s important to use unique passwords for all of your online accounts. Resist taking a nonchalant approach to creating an account on any site.
You might be inclined to discount the potential impact of a data breach that involves what seems like non-sensitive personal information, but having this type of data compromised can have serious consequences.
The benefit of using unique passwords is the relative ease with which you can recover after a breach. Instead of having to change passwords on all of your online accounts, simply change the one for the impacted site and move on with your life. No muss, no fuss.
The more complex the better
Another mistake too many people make is creating passwords that are easy to hack. Cybercriminals have sophisticated tools at their disposal that can crack a simple password in seconds.
A strong password is one that is built using the full alphanumeric range, consisting of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and other symbols (such as punctuation marks and mathematical symbols).
It’s also a good practice to create passwords that are at least 12 characters long. Length is critical for password strength because they take longer to hack than shorter ones. RoboForm can help you come up with complex passwords.
Tools like RoboForm’s random password generator greatly simplifies the task of creating random, complex passwords. Save 50% on RoboForm Everywhere and manage your passwords with ease and security.
Random passwords work best
Another feature of strong passwords is randomness. Weak passwords are predictable and easy for hackers to guess. They often incorporate personal information like your birthday, pet’s name, favorite musician or sports team — and much of this information can be found by crooks on social media sites.
Even with everything we know about potential security threats, people are still using some of the easiest-to-crack passwords ever. Remember “qwerty”? Yep, people are still using that one today.
According to a recent survey by the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the top 10 most common passwords are:
If you’re using any of the passwords on this list, please change them immediately!
When possible, enable 2FA
It’s always a good idea to have more than one source of protection. That’s where two-factor authentication (2FA) comes in.
2FA is a fancy name for adding an extra verification step to the login process of your most critical accounts. Instead of just providing your username or password to log in, a secondary form of verification is required to prove your identity.
One way to do this is by receiving a one-time code that’s texted to your phone. Another is to use an authenticator app like Google Authenticator.
Once you’ve set up 2FA, in order to gain access to your account, a hacker would need both your password and your phone. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of 2FA whenever it’s available.
Protecting your accounts made easy
If you really want to protect your sensitive data, follow these simple steps:
Delete unused accounts
The first thing you need to do is spend some time reviewing your current online accounts. Delete all of the accounts you no longer use. Think LiveJournal or MySpace.
MySpace used to rule the social media world, but Tom is very lonely these days. And MySpace recently had a major data breach. It’s a good idea to get rid of any online accounts you don’t use before it’s too late.
Update your passwords
Next, update all existing passwords to ensure they are unique and complex. Use RoboForm’s free online tool to evaluate the security of individual passwords.
Finally, rely on a password manager like RoboForm to do the heavy lifting related to password generation and security. Save 50% on RoboForm Everywhere and manage your passwords with ease and security.