It seems like every time you login to a site, your password needs to be updated to meet new minimum requirements. Why are they demanding us to create impossible-to-remember passwords and forcing us to assimilate to these new standards? To put it simply, it’s for our own good.
The longer the password, the less likely it is for the bad guys to get it. It really is that simple. Someone is not just sitting around trying to guess your password by finding out your anniversary and pet’s name anymore. Hackers use programs that run through several possible character combinations until they get in or will get lists of passwords from data breaches. Increasing the password requirements increases the possible combinations, which decreases hackers’ chances of breaking in.
And, of course, it’s not just emails we’re trying to secure, it’s also our online banking information, credit card accounts and online retailers. The stuff a bad guy could do a lot of harm with. Not only should you use a strong password, you should want to use a strong password.
Below are some easy steps that can help you stay secure.
1. Use LONG passwords with an assortment of characters. Mix in numbers, special characters, lowercase and uppercase letters.
2. Do not use common words or names—make it unique.
3. Use sentences, lyrics or phrases to make it more memorable. Take the first letter of each word and use that string of letters as your password (don’t forget to mix in special characters). For example, maybe your favorite song is Bennie and the Jets, so you’re likely to remember any password related to that.
You could take the lyrics: She’s got electric boots a mohair suit/You know I read it in a magazine/Oh B-B-B-Bennie and the jets
And turn it into: $’sgebams/ykIriiam/03BatJ
4. Change your passwords often. This includes your Wi-Fi password, too!
5. Turn on multi-factor authentication through online accounts that support this feature. A little extra protection can go a long way if someone stole or guessed your password.
6. Don’t use the “remember me” features for login pages, especially on public or shared computers.
7. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts, and don’t re-use old passwords.
8. Don’t write down passwords or keep them in an unprotected document, however if you need to write them down, there are digital password manager tools, such as Last Pass.
9. Sometimes you need to share a password with a colleague or perhaps a 3rd party agency hired to manage your social media and digital advertising accounts. Tools like One Time Secret make it a lot safer to share passwords. Because, let’s face it, if we’re using the wacky passwords we recommend above, then saying those over the phone isn’t so simple, and sharing them in an email is a no-no.
10. Don’t forget about passwords on mobile devices—make sure you have a password on your lock screen. In fact, some apps, such as Outlook, require a lock screen password to even be able to use the app.
We hope you follow these best practices to secure your sensitive information in this digital age.