How To Set a Safe Password

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How To Set a Safe Password

You don’t need to look farther than the headlines these days to know that cyber security is as vital as it has ever been. Most of us have much of our important information stored online in one form or another, so taking steps to protect that information is crucial. When thinking about protecting yourself online, one of the easiest and most effective habits to develop is to set safe passwords for your important systems. However, most people don’t know how. You probably already know not to share your passwords with anyone and make passwords that you think would be hard to guess, but in today’s cyber environment, that simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Today we’re not just protecting ourselves from other people, but from computers as well – computers that are a lot better at guessing passwords than humans are. So how do you protect yourself and rest assured that your information is safe out there in cyberspace? Follow these tips for the best practices:

1. Make your passwords random and really, really long

Nowadays most of your personal information can be found online by doing a quick Google search. That’s why it’s not a good idea to use things like your pets name, the street you grew up, or your mothers maiden name when you set a safe password. Using these things might be alluring because they’re easy to remember, however, if it’s easy to remember, it’s probably really easy to guess. Passwords that are long, usually 20 characters or more, that include a string of words with some capital letters, special characters, or numbers are going to be the most secure.

2. Don’t use the same password for everything

Even if you follow the above guidance to create a strong password, don’t use the same one for everything. This might sound like a pain but the effort you go through to protect yourself is well worth the effort. All passwords run the risk of being hacked no matter how long, random, or strong they test as. If this does happen, you won’t want risk someone having immediate access to all of your information.

3. Don’t create or remember your passwords – Have an app do it for you

I know what you’re thinking, how can I trust an app with something as important as the passwords to all my private data? Here’s why you should: Humans aren’t that great at creating or remembering these long long random strings of words, symbols, and characters and the ‘random’ passwords you will create will probably not really be random. Words and phrases that might seem random to us are incredibly easy to guess by a program running through a massive database of combinations. We recommend looking into password manager apps to figure out which one is best for you. Some great examples are 1Password, Dashlane and Roboform. These managers will set a safe password for you. When you use a password manager, all you have to remember is your one master password that unlocks it. This master password should be written down and stored somewhere safe.

4. Use two-factor authentication

After you set a safe password, two-factor authentication is a simple feature that asks for more than just the password to login.  It acts as an added layer of protection on top of your password. It requires both “something you know” (like a password) and “something you have” (like your phone). It comes in many forms such as SMS codes, email codes, authenticator apps for your phone, or even a hardware key. Each form is a little different in how you authenticate. However, using any form will be better than just using your password alone.

5. Protect Your Security Questions

Similar to how using common phrases are easy to guess and hack, the same is true with security questions. Security questions are somewhat dated in their ability to keep your accounts safe. Sure, they are designed to help you, the account owner, but if you’re using true answers then they might be helping a hacker. With the internet or social media, it is easy to find out personal information about someone. The best practice is to slightly alter your true answers making them uncommon. For example, if the street you grew up was Albany Street you might use some like Frailbinay. Feel free to have fun and be creative, but just be sure to remember it.

It’s often said that “everything can become broken” and in the case of passwords and cybersecurity, it is true. Passwords can be hacked and cyber attackers exist. No matter how much technology advances to help protect you from cyber attacks there will always be advancements in how to break through that protection. That’s why it’s best to stay educated on the best practices for protecting yourself and be prepared to adapt to new ways of doing so.