WAYS TO CREATE A STRONG PASSWORD

Your password is your first line of defense against hackers and unauthorized access to your accounts. The strength of your passwords directly impacts your online security.

COMBINE UNRELATED WORDS TO MAKE PASSWORDS STRONGER

To create a strong password, try combining two or more unrelated words. It could even be an entire phrase. Then change some of the letters to special letters and numbers. The longer your password, the stronger it is.

A single word with one letter changed to an @ or ! (such as p@ssword!) doesn’t make for a strong password. Password cracking programs contain every type of these combinations, in every single language.

CERTAIN WORDS SHOULD BE AVOIDED IN ALL PASSWORDS

Many people use familiar people, places, or things in passwords because it makes their passwords easy to remember. This also makes your passwords easy for hackers to guess.

According to a study conducted by Google, passwords that contain the following information are considered insecure because they’re easy to figure out. You can find much of this info after reviewing someone’s social media profiles.

-Pet names

-A notable date, such as a wedding anniversary

-A family member’s birthday

-Your child’s name

-Another family member’s name

-Your birthplace

-A favorite holiday

-Something related to your favorite sports team

-The name of a significant other

-The word “Password,” or any variation of it. That includes P@assword!

USE DIFFERENT PASSWORDS FOR EVERY ACCOUNT

To keep your accounts as secure as possible, it’s best that every single one has a unique password. If one account gets breached, then hackers can’t use those login credentials to gain access to other accounts.

While no one can stop hackers from hacking, you can stop reusing the same password everywhere. It makes it far too easy for cyber criminals to attack one site and get your password for others.

USE PASSWORD MANAGER TO REMEMBER ALL YOUR PASSWORDS

Do you really need to remember 100 passwords? Not at all. A password manager is a piece of software that keeps all your password safe, encrypted, and protected. It can even generate strong passwords for you and automatically enter them in to websites and apps.

Password managers act like a digital safe-deposit box for all your online accounts. You just need one key to get into your accounts: A single, easy-to-remember but hard-to-guess password. That password unlocks the safe.

But what if your password manager gets hacked? A good one keeps your passwords encrypted behind a password they don’t know (only you do). They don’t store any of your credentials on their servers. While no single tool can guarantee total online safety, security experts agree that using a password manager is far more secure than using the same password everywhere.

ADD EXTRA LAYER OF SECURITY WITH TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

Many websites offer two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA or multi-factor authentication. On top of your username and password, 2FA requires another piece of information to verify yourself. So, even if someone has your password, they can’t get in.

Withdrawing money from an ATM is an example of 2FA. It requires your PIN code and your bank card. You need these two pieces to complete the transaction.

Websites that support 2FA include Google and Amazon. When you have 2FA enabled, the site will text you a code to enter after your password. Other forms of 2FA include YubiKeys USB ports and security apps like DUO.

When you set up 2FA, many sites will give you a list of backup codes to verify your account. A password manager is a great place to store these codes.

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Understand how hackers work

Forget about those hackers in movies trying to crack the code on someone’s computer to get their top-secret files. The hackers responsible for data breaches usually start by targeting companies, rather than specific individuals. They want to get data from as many people as possible so they can use, resell, or leverage it to make money. It all starts with getting your password.

It’s not personal. Not at first.

Hackers don’t really care whose personal information and credentials they can get, as long as they can get a lot of it. That’s why cyber criminals often target massive companies with millions of users. These hackers look for a security weakness — the digital equivalent of leaving a door unlocked or window open. They only need to find one door or window to get inside. Then they steal or copy as much personal information as possible.

Once they get your data, cyber criminals can start their real work. We don’t always know what they intend to do with the data, but usually they will try to find a way to profit from it. The effects on you might not be immediate. But they can be very serious.

All types of data can be valuable.

Some data — like banking information, bank card numbers, government-issued ID numbers, and PIN numbers — is valuable because it can be used to steal the victim’s identity or withdraw money. Email addresses and passwords are also valuable because hackers can try them on other accounts. All sorts of data can be valuable in some way because it can be sold on the dark web for a profit or kept for some future use.

Common passwords make a hacker’s work easy.

Hackers aren’t actually guessing people’s passwords. To crack into accounts, they use automated programs that enter hundreds of popular passwords in just a few seconds. That’s why it’s important to avoid using the same passwords that everyone else does.

123456 and password are the most commonly used passwords. Don’t use them.

Switching a letter for a symbol (p@ssw0rd!) is an obvious trick hackers know well.

Avoid favorite sports teams or pop culture references. Use something more obscure.

Don’t use a single word like sunshine, monkey, or football. Using a phrase or sentence as your password is stronger.

Don’t use common number patterns like 111111, abc123, or 654321.

Adding a number or piece of punctuation at the end doesn’t make your password stronger.

One exposed password can unlock many accounts.

Hackers know people reuse the same passwords. If your banking password is the same as your email password is the same as your Amazon password, a single vulnerability in one site can put the others at risk.

It’s why you should use different passwords for every single account. The average person has 90 accounts, and that’s a lot of passwords to remember. Security experts recommend using a password manager to safely store unique passwords for every site.

Hackers don’t care how much money you have.

Think you don’t need to worry because you don’t have much money to steal? Hackers couldn’t care less. There are countless ways to leverage all types of personal data for profit.

Through identity theft, cyber criminals can open new credit cards or apply for loans in your name. By getting your financial information, they can make purchases or withdrawals. These attackers can even find ways to target your friends and family once they gain access to your email.

Follow our HACKERS SERIES to find out more how to stay safe online

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.

Together let’s make the Internet a safe space for all to harness the opportunities it offers.

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