When considering cybersecurity, many people may first envision massive rooms filled with computer towers, monitors, and a team of whiz kids who are working to crack some big security issue. Others may instead think of the IT folks at their place of business who work diligently to protect the company and its customers. Others still may envision AI-enabled devices that work with little-to-no intervention by humans to detect and thwart attack attempts from malicious actors. While these are certainly all under the umbrella of cybersecurity, it doesn’t actually have to be that complicated or complex. One of the building blocks of strong cybersecurity is the use of proper password hygiene, which is something every single user of any Internet-connected device can (and should) do! Here are some tips to help you stay safe and protect your accounts,
Do not use the same password for different accounts – A security specialist recently reviewed data exposed in numerous data breaches and found that sixty-five percent of online users use the same password for multiple accounts. Though this sounds like it may not be a big deal, when people do this, if one account is compromised, they leave all other accounts protected by the same password exposed to attack.
Be sure your passwords are complex – Not only should your passwords for each site be different from each other, they also need to be hard for someone to guess. Don’t use things that are commonly known about you or that you post about on social media often, as these may be clues for malicious actors to try and piece together what your passwords might be. Use things like different cases for letters, numbers, and special characters such as ? and @.
Use a passphrase to make it easier to remember credentials – Having many different and complex passwords can make it difficult to remember your login credentials. A way to make these logins easier to remember is by using a passphrase instead of a password. Though a passphrase is usually longer than a password, it is usually a bit easier to remember because it is set up like a short sentence; the fact that it is more characters also makes it a more secure option.
Utilize a password manager – One of the main reasons people don’t practice proper password hygiene is because it can be hard to remember all of the different login credentials for the various accounts they have. A way to make this less of a burden is by utilizing a password manager which is a free database that you can download to your computer or smartphone where you can store all of your passwords. When this is used, you only have to remember one complex password rather than your entire catalog of password information. You have to be sure to make this password manager password very hard to guess in order to further protect your credentials.
Take advantage of multi-factor authentication – Most websites offer the option for users to utilize two-factor authentication where there is not only a password used to protect your account, but also a one time code you enter in to verify your identity. This one-time code is usually sent to an account tied to your login, usually your phone number or email address. This simple step takes a few minutes at most and can make a huge difference in your personal cybersecurity as it requires an additional way to login, meaning even if a hacker gains access to your username and password, they can’t access your account unless they had access to your phone or email.
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