What’s so special about “dragon” and “football?” Both of these words made the 2011 list of worst passwords of the year. People like to relate their password to something about themselves such as their favorite animal, sport or mythical character to make it easier to remember. That’s not a good thing when it comes to protecting yourself against hackers who want to steal your money and your identity.
Hackers are savvy at “guessing” passwords. One way they do it is to keep trying common passwords until they find one that works. Would you believe some people even use the “password” as their password? Let’s just say that most hackers are on to that one. The best way to keep hackers out of your private accounts is to put a little thought into choosing the passwords you use online. Here are some tips for becoming more password savvy.
Don’t Use Passwords That Are Common Words
Don’t make it easy on the hackers. Don’t choose a word that’s in the dictionary – and make your password at least eight characters in length. Mix numbers in with the letters, but don’t make them consecutive numbers like 123 or repeats of the same number like 111. Windows even allows you to use spaces in passwords to make them harder for a hacker to crack. For added security, use both upper and lower case letters, and add a few symbols that aren’t letters or numbers.
Use Different Passwords for Different Accounts
If a hacker breaks into one of your accounts, your other accounts will still be protected if they’re set up under a different password. Most people don’t do this because they don’t want to remember multiple passwords. Fortunately, there’s no need to. Sign up with a password site that will store your passwords securely. When you’re ready to sign onto one of your accounts, go to the password manager site to log in. Using a service like this means you won’t have to keep your passwords written down in a notebook where people can have access to them.
Don’t Reveal Your Password to Anyone
It sounds like common sense, but don’t reveal your passwords to anyone, not even your family or best friend. If you can avoid it, don’t write your passwords down. If you do, place them in a secure area that only you have access to. Most importantly, be aware that there are phishing scams conducted by email. These emails look like they’re from your bank or other company you do business with. They may ask for your password or ask you to sign into a fake account using your password. Legitimate businesses will never ask for personal information.
Other Password Safety Tips
Don’t save your password if your browser gives you the option. There are computer viruses that can retrieve that information from your computer if you stored it. It’s safer to type it in every time. Change your password periodically, and any time someone has had access to your computer.
A good solution is also to choose a password manager which can help you to manage your passwords in a secure way. The three most popular ones are: LastPass (it will store your passwords on their servers), KeePass and 1Password.
Choose your passwords wisely, and keep them to yourself. Your online safety depends on it.