Like many Americans, you probably use at least one online service — email, social media, online banking, shopping or bill pay. These online services offer convenience, efficiency and help you stay connected, but having an online presence can make you vulnerable to computer hackers. Below, we share how to protect your password from hackers.
Choose different passwords for each account.
One of the most common ways to protect passwords is to set up different passwords for individual accounts. A typical mistake, however, is that people don’t make the passwords distinctly different — “chicago1234” and “Chicago12345” don’t count. Remember: When the same password is used for multiple accounts it makes it easier for hackers to gain access to them.
Avoid using weak passwords.
One of the most important password protection tips relates to password strength. According to a 2016 report, “63 percent of confirmed data breaches involved leveraging weak, default or stolen passwords.” Creating a strong password that is difficult to crack is a good defense against hackers. According to SplashData’s annual “Worst Passwords List” for 2016, “123456” and “password” remained the top two most commonly used passwords for the sixth year in a row. If you want to protect your passwords, it’s a good idea to choose a password that is:
- At least 12 characters long
- Contains a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols
- Free of personal information like your name/birthdate, family member’s name/birthdate, name of a pet, etc.
Enable two-step verification.
Two-step verification adds another layer of security protection. Some services like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and banks offer two-step verification to access accounts. Two-step authentication requires your password, but it goes one step further by requiring additional information such as a code sent to your phone or another account. This way, even if your password has been compromised, your account can’t be accessed without the second piece of information.
Don’t share your passwords.
This probably seems unnecessary on a list of password security tips, but you’d be surprised. Sharing passwords can leave your accounts vulnerable. But a recent study found of those surveyed 95 percent shared up to six passwords with other people, and 39 percent shared passwords to email and communication accounts. Additionally, 25 percent shared work-related passwords.
Protect your mobile devices.
Mobile devices contain a lot of your personal data — emails, contacts, schedules and access to apps. When your phone or tablet is lost or stolen, your data can go with it. Be sure to lock your device with a passcode, touch ID and biometric features. It’s a good idea to take advantage of offerings that can help locate and lock your device and wipe data from it remotely if it’s ever lost or stolen.
Keep your software up-to-date.
Even if you regularly follow the previous password safety tips, you could still be vulnerable and not even know it! Out-of-date software is incredibly common and leaves you open to hacking. Updating your software helps to prevent malware infections that can include capturing keystrokes and passwords. When you receive a notification that a software update is available, be sure to install it.
Don’t fall victim to phishing.
Password security means nothing if you happily let hackers in through the front door. If you receive an email from an unknown sender or the email and attachment or links look suspicious, don’t open or click on it. Delete it right away.
Worried about identity theft? Ask your Farm Bureau agent about coverage options that could help reduce your risk for identity theft.