It’s time to leave your house for work and you leave your house, shut the front door, lock it and hang the key next to it. No? Why not? Because you don’t make it easy for people to get into your house, right? Then why are you doing the same thing with your passwords?
Passwords are all around us. If you are reading this, then you most likely needed a password to log into your computer, into your phone, into your email. You have passwords for social media, for accessing bills, your bank. Almost every site you visit may require you to log in with a username and…a password.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and as a service, we’re going to talk a little bit about passwords and how you can make it harder for people to gain access by not leaving the key outside your door.
- No Post-It Note Passwords. Writing your passwords down and leaving them where people can read them is a sure fire way for people to gain access your accounts.
- No birthday passwords. Using a child’s, parent’s or relative’s birthday is also a risky move. In fact, your passwords should have no relationship to you at all. Nothing that someone who knows you or who does a little research can guess.
- Different accounts should have different passwords. The same password you use to log into Facebook should not be the same one you use to log into your bank account. Otherwise, someone who figures out your Facebook password could also log into your bank account.
- Avoid public computers. The problem with public computers is anyone can use them and you don’t control what is put on there. There are programs, like keyloggers, that are decided to record all keystrokes that are entered.
- Be Safe. Log out. If you are walking away from your device, for whatever reason, even if it’s only for a few moments, log out. It doesn’t take long for someone to steal or change your password.
- Free WI-FI may cost you. Connecting to unsecured WI-FI signals and then logging into websites is like leaving all your passwords on the table for people to see. A hacker with a laptop or a phone can easily intercept the data.
- Password strength. You’ve probably this one 100 times, but it bears repeating. Passwords should be at least 8 characters of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. For more sensitive material, try 16 characters. Below is a list of the top worst passwords that people actually used in 2016. If one of these matches your password, change it right now.
- Change your passwords. Depending on how sensitive the material is, change your passwords periodically and avoid reusing the same password for at least a year.
- Don’t share your passwords. Sharing is not caring when it comes to passwords.
- Memory problems. If you are going to write down your passwords, keep them away from your computer and don’t make them appear they are passwords and what they are for. If you have you have your passwords stored on a piece of paper saying “Password List” with a sentence saying “Bank: AS34asdfl3$” and store that in your wallet and you get mugged….
One more for the road: We recommend a password manager. Using a program to remember your passwords can be helpful, especially if your passwords look like random and are 16+ characters long and you have a lot of them. There are a few of them on available (either free or paid). We are familiar with LastPass (https://www.lastpass.com/).