You are often told your passwords are key to protecting your accounts (which is true!), but rarely are you given a simple way to securely create and manage all your passwords. Below we cover three simple steps to simplify your passwords, lock down your accounts, and protect your future.
The days of crazy, complex passwords are over. Those passwords are hard to remember, difficult to type, and with today’s super-fast computers can be easy for a cyber attacker to crack. The key to passwords is to make them long; the more characters you have the better. These are called passphrases: a type of strong password that uses a short sentence or random words. Here are two examples:
Both of these are strong, with over twenty characters, easy to remember, and simple to type but difficult to crack. You will run into websites or situations requiring you to add symbols, numbers, or uppercase letters to your password, which is fine. Remember though, it’s length that is most important.
You need a unique password for every account. If you reuse the same password for multiple accounts, you are putting yourself in great danger. All a cyber attacker needs to do is hack a website you use, steal all the passwords including yours, then use your password to log in to all your other accounts as you. It happens far more often than you realize.
Use a password manager.
These are special computer programs that securely store all your passwords in an encrypted vault. You only need to remember one password: the one for your password manager. The password manager then automatically retrieves your passwords whenever you need them and logs you in to websites for you.
Be sure to write down the password to your password manager and store that in a secure location at home. Some password managers even let you print out a password manager recovery kit. That way, if you forget the password to your password manager you have a backup. Or, if you get sick or find yourself in an emergency, your spouse or trusted family member can retrieve the information on your behalf.
Two-step verification (often called two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication) adds an additional layer of security. It requires you to have two things when you log in to your accounts: your password and a numerical code which is generated by your smartphone or sent to your phone. This process ensures that even if a cyber attacker gets your password, they still can’t get into your accounts.
It may sound silly, but these three simple steps go a long way in protecting your job, your reputation, and your financial future.