With the recent news that Russian hackers have stolen over 1 billion user names and passwords, now is a good time to assess your computer safety and review how you protect yourself online. And with most sensitive and confidential information requiring login credentials, it all boils down to this question: How secure is your password? We give you some best practices to manage and secure password online.
Consider your passwords as your first line of defense against cyber criminals
It’s crucial to pick strong passwords that are different for each of your important accounts and it is good practice to update your passwords regularly. According to security experts, secure passwords should ideally be 14-25 characters in length with a mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols and you should never use the same one twice. In instances where you think that your information might have been compromised, change your password immediately.
Best practices in fortifying your passwords
1. Don’t use one password for everything. Have different passwords especially for important accounts, e-mails, and online banking. This way when one account is compromised, not everything will be hacked into.
2. Change passwords every now and then. Ideally, it should be every three to six months. This can be tricky to manage so you can try writing them down, making sure it stays hidden from anyone or employing a password manager like LastPass, 1Password or iVault.
3. Use long passwords made up of numbers, letters and symbols. The recommended minimum is eight characters, but 14 to 25 characters are better.
4. Do NOT use personal information as passwords. You shouldn’t use your name, company name or hometown, your pets and relatives’ names and avoid things that can be looked up, such as your birthday or ZIP code. You can use them as part of a complex password though. Try reversing your ZIP code or phone number and insert that into a string of letters.
5. Do NOT use words found in dictionaries, even if you add symbols or numbers. There are programs that can crack passwords by going through databases of known words. One trick is to add numbers in the middle of a word — as in “birth123987day” instead of “birthday123789.”
6. Substitute characters. For instance, use the number zero instead of the letter O, the letter A with the @ sign, the letter E with the number three, etc.
7. Create a foolproof password security method. Many services will send an email to you at a recovery email address if you need to reset your password, so make sure your recovery email address is up-to-date and an account you can still access. Most web sites now have a password recovery or reset method done by sending a code to your registered mobile phone number. This is so far the safest way to guarantee your password remains secure.
One is only as safe as one’s own best practices. We cannot control sites getting hacked into so be smart; plan ahead. Secure your own information.
Do you have any tips to share in securing passwords online? Share them in the comment.