How to Safeguard Online Accounts with Strong Passwords

With the prevalence of online accounts that provide convenience and connectivity comes a responsibility to safeguard our accounts to ensure that important personal information stays safe.  However, it can be quite a challenge to remember login credentials for the multitudes of online accounts.  It may be easier to have a single login and password combination but doing makes your account an easy target for hackers looking to harvest data.

How do you safeguard online accounts so personal information stays private? 

Having the same password for multiple accounts, or easy to remember passwords, are often the least secure because smart software programs can figure them out. A recent headline article on Yahoo revealed that the most common password is Password1. A study by antivirus security company, BitDefender, found that more than 250,000 email addresses, usernames and passwords can easily be found online. Randomly checking a sample list consisting of email addresses also revealed that 75% of social networking username and password samples are identical to those used for email accounts.

Unique login credentials for accounts decrease the possibility of hackers infiltrating accounts and stealing important information.  Spammers and those who want to infect your computer with malware love it when we use the same password for multiple accounts. It opens the door to numerous security implications such as personal data theft and hijacking of email and social network accounts.

In order to safeguard your information, here are some tips you can use to create stronger hack-proof passwords: 

  • Go beyond the required password length. The more characters, the less likely is that someone will be able to crack it.
  • When in doubt of your password, click on the retrieve password button on the site you visit to access your account and use the link sent through email to reset it.  Bank accounts will often lock you out with too many failed attempts to log in with an incorrect password.
  • Don’t store your many logins and passwords as a document on your computer in case of theft. If computer is stolen, a thief has access to a treasure trove of information if you keep your password in a Word Document called “passwords.”  If you must write down your passwords, do so in a plain looking address book that won’t draw attention to itself on your desk or in a drawer.  The Internet Password Organizer and ___ can be a convenient place to keep passwords.
  • Set an automatic calendar reminder to change your passwords monthly, or at the very least, every 3 months.
  • Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. For example, use your pet’s name (Spot) and an important date such as an anniversary (February 26).  Ordinarily the password would be Spot226 but instead, use a combination of capital letters combined with symbols, letters, and numbers to make it much harder to guess.

If you must use the same password, use a different variation of it. Here are some different ways you could modify Spot226:

  • spottwotwosix (spell out all the numbers)
  • sp0ttw0tw0six (substitute zeros for o)
  • $pot2two$ix (use $ instead of the s)
  • sPottWotWosIx (insert capital letters where they are less likely to appear- in this case, the second letter in each word)

What other tips do you have for protecting your accounts to preserve your online identity? Do you have a good way to remember your many passwords? Please share!

Laptop with steel security lock via Shutterstock

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