Do “123456”, “abc123”, and “Qwerty” look familiar to you? That’s probably
because they are some of the most popular passwords around. If you’re
like most people, then these examples or some variation of them may have
been one of passwords at some point. Because we’re living in the age of
awesome, but sometimes frustrating technology, a lot of our personal
data is stored on the Internet, which makes us all potentially
vulnerable if personal data were to fall into the wrong hands.
With all the recent hackings in the news, it’s imperative that you secure your personal and business accounts to the fullest extent. We here at SnapHawk always try to inspire tech awesomeness and marketing savvy so the following are some helpful tips that should amp up your security and let you continue managing your Internet marketing campaign, business, and overall lifestyle smoothly.
1. Different Accounts? Different Passwords!
A recent WSJ article noted that most people use a single password throughout the Web, which is comparable to “having the same key for your house, your car, your gym locker, your office.” This may be initially convenient, but it can quickly become dangerous if your universal key or password was accessible to anyone else besides yourself and people you trust.
Today, we often use a variety of different services and websites and ideally, you should have a different password for different types of accounts. For example, you could have a different password for different categories such as social media, shopping, finances, etc. Therefore, if someone were to get a hold of one password, he / she will not have access to all of your accounts. Makes sense doesn't it?
2. Complexity and Length Matter
If a password is longer and more complex, it should be harder for people to guess. Sounds good, right? Many security experts and Websites agree that, if you can, use 14 characters in your passwords (with a minimum of 8). Don’t use common dictionary words, string of numbers, or personal information that can be searched in your passwords.
Instead, put your own unique spin on passwords:
- Use a number instead of all letters in a word (e.g. d0g, c0mput3r)
- Misspell (e.g. StrngPssWrd)
- Mix and match upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols (e.g. T3chi$Awes0me).
Lastly, another cool trick is to take a sentence or phrase that you can remember and use the first letter of each word. For example, Benjamin Franklin’s quote “A penny saved is a penny earned” can be transformed into “Ap$1apeBF”, which meets all the criteria of a strong password. As always, creativity pays off so come up with passwords that would be easy for you to remember, but hard for hackers to crack.
3. Change Is Good—Like Every Three Months
Even if your passwords are strong, it would be wise to change them periodically. Many experts and companies recommend changing your passwords around every 3 months, but it all depends on your computing habits. If you tend to use public computers often, you should change your passwords more frequently than say people who use a single personal computer on a secure network. It would also be smart to install a private wireless network, which would be great time to get really creative with your password creation.
Changing passwords often can be a hassle and difficult to remember, so make it as easy as possible for yourself. Most experts agree that it’s dangerous to write all of your passwords down on a sticky note and put it on your monitor, but there are definitely better options. You can utilize password managers, such as 1Password and LastPass. These programs require you to input your passwords for all the different websites you use once, stores them for you, and then automatically logs you in when you open up stored websites. The best part is that the programs keep your data synced on any device that you use whether it is your desktop, smartphone, or a friend’s laptop. You’ll never have to go through the frustration of trying to remember the different usernames and passwords for your Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo!, or Twitter accounts ever again!
Final Thoughts & Support Tips
No matter how strong your passwords may be, hackers could potentially install malware that tracks your keystrokes so it’s important to keep your antivirus and antispyware software updated. And, as you probably already know, you should also be cautious about what links you click on, who sent you the email, and what files you download from the Web. While it’s almost impossible to secure yourself completely, following these guidelines will give you the best possible protection on the Web.