September 21

Pass the keyboard, please.

The list confirms it: we are lazy when creating passwords. The sheer number of accounts, applications, and devices we own almost guarantees poor password quality.

Rather than create and encrypt a spreadsheet to track passwords for a variety of accounts, or use a secure password manager, users endanger themselves by selecting the most basic of passwords:

1. 123456
2. password
3. 123456789
4. 12345678
5. 12345
6. 111111

For sports fans, “football” makes an appearance in the top 20 passwords. These passwords all have something in common: they are weak. They could be downright dangerous in the wrong hands.

Password best practices and protection tips

Employ the following to fortify and protect your numerous accounts and devices:

1. Variety is the spice of life.

Use a different password for each account.

2. Be stealthy.

Would you announce your social security number in the middle of a large crowd? Of course not. So, be discreet when inputting a password or PIN number. Shield sensitive information from wandering eyes.

3. Be an overachiever.

Most sites stipulate that your password must be at least 6 characters long. Make it longer: try 8, 10, or even 12 characters instead. Make sure to include upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

4. Watch your phraseology!

The best way to come up with an undecipherable code is to think of a phrase significant to your life, then choose corresponding letters (upper and lowercase) and number to represent said phrase.

Phrase: I want to create a strong password.
Password: [email protected]

5. Double up.

Use ‘two-factor authentication’, when possible. Smartphones are so ubiquitous and essential that most have passcodes and fingerprint scanners. Welcome to the future, folks.

6. Reject generic.

Security questions are supposed to be secure. If the information is easily retrievable or construed as common knowledge, don’t use it.

7. Embrace change.

Companies generally require employees to change their network or system passwords every day, month, or few months, depending on the industry and amount of sensitive information. Apply this practice to your personal life and change your passwords (don’t rotate them) frequently.

8. Take preventative measures.

Install antivirus software and browser plugins to protect you while you surf the net. Ad Blocker Plus is extremely effective on unsolicited pop-ups.

9. No-go fish.

Have you ever received an urgent, but suspicious email from a known sender urging you to login, change your password immediately, or provide personal information? This is known as a ‘phishing’ scam. Trusted contacts or authentic companies should never ask you for personal information.

10. Leverage the right tools.

Two words: password manager. There are plenty of applications (paid and free) that will generate, remember, and protect as many passwords as you need.

Now that you are equipped with the tools and tricks to create your passwords, fortify your accounts, and protect your devices, take a step back and consider why it is necessary to do this.

Passwords are our first line of defense between the world and our bank accounts, homes, credit cards, email, phones, computers, tablets, and apps. Setting a universal password of “123456” is as good as leaving your front door open when you’re not home. Don’t do it.

Don’t forget – upcoming: October is Cyber Security Awareness Month!

Category: helpful hints, data loss prevention

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