When Did You Last Change Your Password?
Password protection is a tightrope, a fine line between a reassurance of safety and slipping into paranoia. It seems like every day we’re signing up for a new product or service, each requiring a new password. It becomes so easy to reuse passwords to avoid forgetting them. It’s a common mistake we’re all too familiar with. Being intentional and conscious of how your password protects you and how you can protect it are critical steps to surfing the web safely.
- Using the same password for multiple accounts (password recycling)
- Creating overly simple or obvious passwords
I know what you’re thinking: another boring blog post about the importance of passwords and password protection. If your account has never been breached, why should you worry about changing your password? Stick with me; I promise we’ll have fun. I’ll even start off the post with some humorous advice about passwords:
On judgment day, before entering heaven, God might ask you for your username and password. You have the username, but the password seems to escape you. You rack your brain to remember which of your hundred passwords is the right one to get through those pearly gates. You think you have it and shout out to God for entry. The ground shakes for a few moments and God responds “Sorry, your username and password don’t match.”
As comical as it may be that exact situation plagues many of us online. Our advice? Use a password manager and you’ll never forget! Tools like the Last Pass will not only help you manage your password but will also help you to create strong reliable ones.
Why is Password Protection Important?
Unauthorized access is a major risk for anyone who uses a computer or other high-tech device, such a smartphone or tablet. The consequences for victims of these break-ins can include the loss of valuable data, such as presentations, emails, and music. Victims may also have their bank account information, money, or even their identity stolen. Moreover, unauthorized users may use someone else’s computer to break the law which could put the victim in legal trouble.
Therefore, a strong password provides essential protection from financial fraud and identity theft. Furthermore, it is recommended that you change your passwords regularly. This will provide for an added layer of password protection. As Clifford Stoll would say, “Treat your password like your toothbrush. Don’t let anybody use it and get a new one every six months.”
Sensitive data, including any personally identifiable information (PII) have become more valuable than oil. Oil used to run the economy but when juxtaposed with data, oil revenues pale in comparison. Data doesn’t just lubricate the machines; it maintains them, and it can never get “used up.” All our devices are intertwined and share information constantly. That leaves these machines vulnerable to misuse by unauthorized users. Don’t fall victim to these unwanted breaches; make sure your passwords are strong.
Not Sure Where to Start?
Presence has compiled a list of 12 things you can do to increase your password strength and protect your personal information:
- Make your passwords long. Eight characters usually is the minimum, but with each additional character, the password becomes harder to crack.
- Random words and phrases are better passwords.
- Include numbers, special characters (the device will tell you if a special character is not allowed), and upper case and lower-case letters.
- Avoid using obvious personal information.
- Do not reuse passwords.
- Enable 2-actor authentication (2FA).
- Start using a password manager and read our blog post on password managers.
- Change your passwords regularly. Heed the words of Clifford Stoll and change them at least every 6 months.
- Do not share your password with others (but you do submit it to a device as the second of two login credentials).
- Be strategic with your secret questions and answers; make you security questions and answers things that nobody but you would know.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi when possible. If for any reason you have to use it, subscribe to a VPN service and install one of the licenses on each portable device, and refrain from online shopping or accessing other sensitive information over a public Wi-Fi.
- Remember to log out of every application and website when you are finished.
Hungry for more knowledge? Check out our top 10 tips on how to improve your online privacy.
Join the movement #PrivayFirst