Why you need a good and secure password
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The majority of us are in the habit of committing two major online security no-nos: 1) Using the same password on multiple websites, and 2) Rarely changing the password.
These two habits can leave you vulnerable to privacy intrusions and hacking attempts.
Consider this: a large majority of websites use your email address as your username. If one of the websites where you have an account is ever hacked and your password is stolen, those same hackers can now use your username and password information to log into other frequently used sites such as banks, social media sites, online mail, and more. There goes your privacy! And now these same hackers can even use your illegally obtained information to steal your identity.
Didn’t think a stagnant password could cause all this? Well, it can.
But there are a few simple ways to try to circumvent this madness.
1) Create strong passwords. Short of a hacker infiltrating an online database that stores your password, a strong password is crucial in the fight against online theft and privacy intrusions.
What makes a strong password?
• Use a combination of letters, punctuation, symbols, and numbers.
• Your password should contain both upper and lowercase letters.
• Whenever possible, use at least 8 characters or more.
• The greater the variety of characters in your password, the better.
Want to see how strong your password is? Microsoft’s Safety & Security Center provides a secure online password checker to test your new password concoction. Don’t worry – no information is stored in any database when you run the check.
2) Use different passwords on different sites. Yes, it can be a pain to remember all of those passwords, but it really does increase your online security. However, if a different password for every site is really more than you can handle, consider creating a variety of strong passwords and alternating them between different sites. Then if a hacker ever gets access to one password, he can’t automatically access all of your accounts.
You can also try using a password manager program like Password Safe to help you manage your different passwords for different sites. Programs such as this allow you to utilize more complex passwords because it’s your computer that will remember them, rather than you.
3) Change your passwords. Some experts debate the necessity of consistently changing your passwords. The Pro side to regularly changing your password is increased security. If someone illegally obtains the information needed to access your account and you change your password, they no longer have access. The Con side is that you have to remember the new passwords once you’ve changed them.
So here is a general rule: The lower risk the site, the less frequently you need to change your password. For instance, if you’re tracking your weight-loss online you may never need to change the password to that site as the site is likely low-risk. However, you may consider changing your online banking password with greater frequency. But remember, never use the same password for both low-risk and high-risk sites.
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