By EarthLink Staff September 29, 2016
A password unlocks a kingdom of information, yet people often make themselves vulnerable to cyber-attack by using weak passwords. We get it — with seemingly every site requiring you to make an account, creating and remembering passwords seems daunting. But when it comes to cybersecurity, the importance of a strong password really can’t be overstated.
To create better passwords, use these password safety tips.
Quite a few sites now prompt or require you to use a combination of letters and symbols. But it’s a good idea to use them even when it’s not required. Make sure you’re not just putting one capital letter at the beginning and a symbol or character at the end. You want to truly mix them together to make your password as safe as possible. The more characters, the harder it is to hack — use at least 12 characters for every password.
If the sentence you choose has personal significance, it will be harder for a random hacker to guess, but easier for you to remember when you log in. For example, the sentence: My first son was born at Atlanta Hospital at 2:30 p.m. would become: [email protected]@2:30pm
Again, you want to make your password something that’s significant to you but isn’t public knowledge. This also goes for security questions that you might set up to confirm your identity. If you choose the question “What elementary school did you attend?” it’s a good idea to make sure that information isn’t available on any social media profiles you have.
If you have all your passwords saved in a document on your device, it means anyone who steals your device has access to every account, too. Worried you won’t be able to remember them? There are a number of secure password managers available.
Think you can create one strong password and use it for most of your accounts? Think again. If a hacker can crack one of your passwords, they can try that same password on your other accounts. Your password is strongest when it’s only used for one account.
As tempting as it can be to ask someone else to log in to your account and check something, don’t do it. Similarly, resist the temptation to share your streaming accounts with family and friends. Even if you trust them, they may not be taking the same precautions you are to keep your passwords secure. If your friend experiences a security breach while logged into your account, it’s your information that is now compromised.
Public, unsecured WiFi can be tempting to use while passing time during a long layover or staying at a hotel. Unfortunately, anything you do on public WiFi can be easily traced and hacked. If you’re connected to open WiFi or using a public device, don’t log into any of your accounts — especially accounts with sensitive information, such as banking or credit card institutions.
If you follow these steps, you can rest easier knowing your passwords are truly protecting your information. While it doesn’t guarantee your information will never be stolen, it does make you a less tempting victim. If you believe your password has been compromised, change your password right away. If you need help, contact EarthLink Support.
See all posts from EarthLink Staff.