The tremendous growth in the way consumers use the internet over the last decade has welcomed a myriad of advancements in different types of business' process. With so many companies making your data available online, the added convenience has created a loophole for potential abuse.
Only a simple password secures your privacy from the outside world.
Hacked? That could never happen to me!
Think of how many accounts are tied to just your email address:
- Online forum logins
- Social media accounts
- Cloud storage
- Payment services
- Bank accounts
Notice how these get progressively more important? Hackers do too.
And even though this security threat is not a new concept, the idea of memorizing so many passwords is a challenging thought. To avoid the confusion, most will end up creating awful passwords that they think are easy to remember.
I'm Pretty Sure I'm Secure ... Right?
We've had a lot of data breaches in the last year. A lot. It sometimes feels like there's a new one every week.
And while you may think you're in the clear because nothing has happened to any of your accounts yet - don't give yourself a false sense of security.
One of our favorite website tools is called Have I Been Pwned. In just a few seconds, you can search whether your email address has appeared on any breach list - or, taking a step further, if one of your passwords has been found on a breach list.
While it doesn't go into detail as to which lists or accounts they've been found out, it does give you a fairly strong nudge to update all your credentials right away.
Before creating your new password, consider a few of our tips to staying secure:
- Do not use similar passwords in your online accounts - Don't use the same password on a message board about your favorite TV show as you would for your bank account. The message boards are significantly less secure and will probably get breached regularly.
- Do not use actual words in your passwords - This goes for favorite pet names, favorite cities, or favorite foods. Real words (or phrases) are easy to break by even the most novice hacker.
- The passwords should not start with an uppercase letter - Just about every password strength security indicator tells you to use an uppercase letter. So naturally, everyone tries to get it out of the way first. You're not the only one thinking that way!
- Never use personal data to inspire your passwords - Building on the above, never try to make the passwords too personal. Using your birthday or street address isn't original - and it's very easy to find online with a simple search.
There goes my ideas. So how do I secure my account?
Passwords safety has experienced notable changes over the last few years because of increasingly refined hacking software. The things you knew in 2017 is not what will keep you safe in 2019.
Here are the 3 tips to assist you to create secure passwords that will stand up to numerous hack threats experienced today.
1. Create your passwords by combining symbols, numbers and letters
It is important to know how to mix characters and numbers to create passwords that are complex. Since cybercriminals have improved their game, a substitution of numbers with letters does not work anymore. This means that number “1” cannot serve as “I” or the number “0” suffice as “o”. The software used by hackers is aware of this trick.
To be on a safer side, make sure you pepper in characters and numbers randomly. All numbers must not be adjacent to each other and this applies to all characters.
2. Integrate special characters into a meaningful secret 'coded' phrase
As we mentioned above, we don't want you using the phrase "ilovesummer" in your password. But that doesn't mean you can't still create a really powerful password that you'll still remember.
Instead of "ilovesummer", try something like "sU^^mEr7%v3"
It checks off all the major security boxes (8 characters, mixed case, letters/numbers/symbols). It also feels like something you can remember when you see it on paper.
And the best of all? It's not something intuitive to hacking software.
3. Don’t give exact answers when responding to password recovery questions
Know all those pesky recovery questions you're forced to fill out? Prepare to lie!
The majority of the questions are super basic and subsequently, can be found by scanning your social media profile. Seriously - who can't figure out the name of someone's cat or which high school they attended?
Instead, either try to use slang, nicknames, or come up with your own secret identity (perhaps based off a favorite book). Try to be consistent, however, so you don't end up forgetting yourself.
Stay Current and Update Often
Staying on top of your accounts can be cumbersome, but it's a worthwhile investment of your time. Update your passwords regularly and don't be afraid to initiate all of those "annoying" additional protocols you're offered.
Sometimes, those added layers of security could be the difference between remaining safe and giving up your personal data!