With most accounts requiring a simple username and password, it has become increasingly easy for criminals to gain access to a user’s private data such as personal and financial details, and then use that information to commit fraudulent acts, generally of a financial nature.
With every hacked database and credit card scandal, it becomes more evident that we can’t rely on passwords much longer. Maybe one day we’ll move beyond it, but for now, it’s absolutely critical to strengthen your weak passwords.
So let’s take a look at some common mistakes and what you can do to make sure your accounts are truly safe and sound.
Passwords aren’t meant to be easy! A lot of people forget this for some reason. Using an obvious password — one that took you no time to devise — is just asking for it!
Every additional character — whether it’s a letter, number, or symbol — makes your password exponentially harder to crack.
So in a sense, nothing is worse than a short password. Even eight characters are too short for real protection these days.
Make your passwords longer!
Passwords that incorporate random letters, numbers, and symbols and 12 to 15 characters long are certainly the strongest.
So “wpwgterayfrs” is an okay password, “wpw87re3k6h2” is even better, and “a!r5s#482%zp” is the best.
After all, muscle memory is a great way to memorize long, unwieldy passwords that are otherwise nonsensical. However, never resort to an overly simplistic pattern, like 1qaz2wsx, qwerty, or qwertyuiop.
In situations that require a four-digit PIN — like ATMs or smartphone lock screens — make sure your pattern passwords aren’t too obvious.
As important as it is to eliminate weak passwords, it’s also crucial that you enable two-step verification.
Two Factor Authentication is an extra layer of security that is also known as “multi factor authentication” that requires not only a password and username but also something that only you have on hand, i.e. a piece of information such as a verification code. This makes it much harder for potential intruders to gain access and steal your personal data, or identity, through login access or email phishing scam, because the criminal would need more than just your username and password details.
Two Factor Authentication is now utilizing mobile apps and SMS, and with over 6 billion mobile phones in use, turning a phone into an authentication device is a simple and easy way to protect your stuff.
Read more on Two – Factor Authentication here.
It’s important to have a unique password for every single account you have. It sounds like that would be impossible to manage, but it’s effortless if you start using a password manager.
Here are a few of the best password managers:
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