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6 Tips to Protect Your Passwords

August 8, 2014 - Misc., Tech -

With reports of password breaches becoming regular news, it’s more important than ever to focus on your online security. If you’re using the same username and password combination for multiple accounts, hackers could easily access your online banking, shopping, social media, email and more just by cracking one of your accounts.

You’ve probably heard many of these tips before, but they’re worth repeating to help keep your passwords protected.

1. Change your passwords regularly

It’s easy to get complacent and use the same password for years. Experts recommend changing your passwords every 30 to 90 days. This can be a hassle, but it’s worth it to protect your accounts. If you’re not up for changing all of your passwords every month or so, at the very least make sure you regularly change the passwords for accounts with sensitive information.

2. Use strong passwords

A common mistake is to use passwords that are easy to guess. If one of your passwords is 1234, password, your phone number, or your spouse’s name, you should consider changing it ASAP. The strongest passwords aren’t too short (aim for 8 characters) and use a mix of letters (uppercase & lowercase), numbers and special characters.

3. Don’t use the same username and password combo for multiple accounts

Using the same username and password for every account makes you an easy target for hackers. If you’re not as concerned about your Facebook and Twitter logins as you are your online banking, a less secure but more convenient option is to have one username and password combo for your lower risk accounts (i.e. social media) and unique combinations for each account that requires greater security (i.e. banking, shopping, etc.).

4. Keep track of your usernames and passwords

While a unique password for every account is great for your online security, it can be a challenge to remember them all. Try choosing something that is easy to remember, but difficult to guess. Think of your favourite line from a song, poem, or movie and make up a password using the first letters of every word. Substitute numerical characters for letters where you can (i.e. 0 instead of O) to make it stronger.

If you really need to write down the password on a piece of paper to remember it, keep it in a safe place (not stuck to your computer monitor) and shred it once you’ve committed it to memory. Another option is to use a password management tool to store your passwords securely. Here’s a roundup of some of the tools you can use.

5. Use secure browsers and trusted URLs

Save your online banking, shopping and other sites to your bookmarks and always visit the site through your bookmarks or a trusted URL. If the URL ever looks suspicious, be wary and don’t enter your credentials. You should also never click on strange links in your emails and enter your credentials, since they might not take you to a legitimate website.

6. Be smart

Your usernames and passwords are only as secure as you keep them. You should keep them private and avoid sharing them with friends and relatives. If you ever need to provide a password so someone can access a document on your computer, etc. make sure you change your login credentials afterwards. Also, never provide your username and password over the phone or email to any company that requests the information.

To find out more about online security, contact our Logikal Teks for help keeping your computers and networks safe.

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