Protect Your Personal Information and Passwords: 8 Tips You Need to Know
In today’s digital age, protecting your personal information and passwords has never been more important. With cyber attacks becoming increasingly frequent and sophisticated, it’s crucial to take proactive measures to safeguard yourself online. According to CBS, over 1.5 million cyber attacks occur annually, with 47% of Americans having their personal information stolen through data breaches. Here are 8 tips to help you keep your data and passwords private and protected:
1. Write it Down
It might seem counterintuitive, but writing down your passwords on a piece of paper and storing them in a safe place can help prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. If your passwords are solely stored on your PC or laptop, they can be lost in the event of a hard drive failure or theft. Additionally, if your device gets hacked, your stored information could become vulnerable.
2. Pick a Strong Password
According to CNET, a strong password should have at least 16 characters and combine lower and upper case letters, symbols, and spaces. Avoid using any repetition, such as 1, 2, 3. One way to create a complicated password that’s easy to remember is by using a phrase. For example, “My favorite cousin Jessica was born in 2016” turns into MfcJwbi2 when you take the first letter of each word in order to create your password. Experts suggest avoiding using any word that can be found in the dictionary as part of your passwords. For example, “flower,” “house,” and “palm trees” are all poor choices.
3. Use a Password Generator and Manager
Password managers like LastPass and RoboForm can be used to automatically fill out your login and password information, making it easier for you to keep track of your passwords. LastPass also comes with a password generator, which can be used to create a secure password instantly. However, keep in mind that all of your data will be protected with a single password, which can still be breached. For example, LastPass was breached by hackers in 2015.
4. Never Use the Same Password Twice
Using the same password on multiple sites increases the risk of all your accounts being compromised. According to a study, 31% of hacking victims used the same password on multiple sites. The best solution is to use a unique password on every site and use a password manager to keep track of them.
5. Don’t Change Your Password Too Often
Changing passwords at set intervals is ineffective and a waste of time. Instead, it’s better to create one unique and longer password instead of changing them every few months.
6. Avoid Entering Passwords on Public Networks and Devices
Avoid entering your password at public computers such as cyber cafes and libraries. You’re also more vulnerable when using public Wi-Fi networks such as Starbucks or McDonald’s where hackers can intercept data.
7. Enable Stronger Authentication Tools
Some companies are enabling a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Biometric identifier, such as fingerprint scanners, to access your account. Having numerous checkpoints in place minimizes the risk of a breach. New Apple iPhones and iPads come equipped with Touch ID, which allows users to unlock their phone and make app purchases via fingerprint. Fingerprints are stored via a chip instead of Apple’s cloud, making the data extra secure.
8. Scan Your System for Malware
It’s not just hackers you have to worry about. It’s also possible for someone in real life, such as a significant other or a spouse, to install a keylogger on your PC or laptop in order to obtain login information. This usually occurs when the other party suspects infidelity. Reduce your risk by installing anti-spyware software, such as McAfee, Panda Anti-Virus, or AVG, and scan your system at least once every two weeks. Downloading the latest updates for your OS can also help reduce your risk further.
Protecting your personal information and passwords online should be a top priority for everyone. By implementing the above tips, you can keep your data safe from hackers, cybercriminals, and other threats. Remember to use strong passwords, never reuse passwords, avoid using public networks and devices, enable stronger authentication tools, and regularly scan your system for malware. By practicing good password hygiene, you can be confident that your sensitive data is secure.