We are living in a world that is completely password driven. A world where a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters makes a huge difference in whether you can access personal information, communicate with your friends or make purchases online.
Everything uses a password these days, and that's a good thing! Strong security of your personal information and accounts, with an equally strong password, is an extremely important step in fraud protection.
What is a strong password, though? Just as importantly, how do you keep your passwords safe once you’ve created them?
Creating a Strong Password
Include Numbers, Letters and Symbols
Use a random mix of both upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters, such as $, !, &, %, # or @. If this seems too complicated, try substituting the special characters for letters. You could use a $ instead of S, or 1 instead of L, or you can include & or %.
Identity thieves have a lot more difficulty trying to crack passwords that contain symbols and numbers as compared to those which contain only letters.
Make Passwords Easy to Remember, but Hard for Others to Guess
When possible, you can use an entire phrase that is important to you or use initials and add numbers or special characters to make a password of it. Some sites may even allow you to use the entire phrase as a password. You need to be able to remember your password, but it shouldn't be easy for someone else figure out, such as your name and birth date.
Make Passwords at Least Eight Characters Long
The longer a password, the stronger it gets. It is much more difficult for hackers to crack longer passwords. Many websites now require your password to be a certain length as a default security measure, including ours!
Do Not use Dictionary Words
Try avoiding the use of words in a dictionary, because if your password can be found in a dictionary, it may be easily hackable. There is a popular process among hackers known as “brute force” that often uses a dictionary in its back end programming to guess possible words used in a password. One way to thwart this is to use a password generator.
Protecting Your Passwords
Never Share Your Password With Anyone
You should never give your password to anyone, even relatives or longtime friends. You never know if that relative will accidentally leave your password where someone else can find it, or your friend may not stay your friend forever and use your password without your permission.
Don’t Use the Same Password for All Accounts
With countless viruses and hackers preying on you, you should create a unique password for every account you make on different online platforms and change them often. Otherwise, if one password is stolen, all the other accounts may also become compromised.
Don’t Keep Passwords in Plain Sight
This might seem like an unnecessary tip, but many people write their passwords on sticky notes and leave them on their monitors. If you really need to write the password down, you should keep it in a place that no one can access or easily see. Which brings us to our next tip!
Use a Password Manager
There are web services or programs, called Password Managers, available that allow you to create and store all of your passwords for each of your sites. Then you will only have to remember one password that can be used to access the program that stores all of your passwords for you.
Use Multifactor Authentication
Many services and sites offer an option to verify your account from an unrecognized device. The common method for this is that you receive a text message to your registered mobile device with a code that you enter to verify that it is you who is accessing the site. This boosts account protection by ensuring that even if if someone does manage to get a hold of your username and password, they still need to go through an additional step to access your accounts. If you have logged into our Online Banking recently, you would have needed to go through this multifactor authentication process.
Don’t Fall for Phishing Attacks
You should be very careful while opening a link, even from a legitimate website that asks you to log in, change your password, or provide your personal information. It can either be legitimate or a phishing scam. With a phishing scam, whatever information you enter goes directly to the hacker. Be sure to verify the website is legitimate before entering any sensitive information.
Want more tips on how to protect your identity? First Alliance Credit Union employee Robin Fries provides more ways to protect against identity theft on KIMT.
Make Sure Your Devices Are Secure
Even if you create the best password in the world, it won’t do you any good if there is someone looking over your shoulder as you type in the password. You should also be aware of keyboard logging software that makes a record of your keystrokes, which can greatly aid hackers in password theft. You should make sure that your operating system is updated and that your device is running up-to-date anti-malware and anti-virus software.
Use a Password or Fingerprint on your Phones
Most cell phones can be locked, and the only way to access it is by entering a code, or maybe a pattern. Some phones have integrated a new technology of registering your fingerprint, and require it to unlock the phone, like Apple's TouchID.
A Strong Password is a Good Money Move
Creating a strong password is one of the most important things you can do to protect your account, ensure the security of your information and keep your accounts from being hacked. Use these tips to create secure passwords and keep your information safe, and contact a Money Navigator today to see what else you can do to keep your bank account secure.