In the good old days, online security used to be more nicety than necessity. For years, I had one 8-digit random password to serve every login need. With developments in hacking technology, the standards for passwords have changed, and a one-size-fits-all password no longer makes the cut. In this piece we’ll challenge our old beliefs about passwords and introduce you to five new powerful password procedures to help you stay secure.
- Make it unique. Each of your online accounts should have a unique password. Otherwise, if a cyberthief breaches one account, they’ve effectively breached them all. Don’t make it easy for them.
- Stay sane with a password manager. Unless you are a master memorizer, assigning unique passwords to each login is a tall order indeed. Solution: install a top-of-the-line password manager. This handy tool will help you to store, and even generate strong passwords. Here’s an independent review of available providers to get you started.
- Lead with length. Remember those 8-digit passwords we talked about? There are random generators out there that will decode 8 characters in a computerized heartbeat. Instead, passwords should be 16 or more characters long.
- Words are welcomed. It used to be a no-no to use dictionary words in a password. This is now considered okay, as long as the string meets the 16-character suggestion. Bonus points if you include a sprinkling of numbers, symbols and cases. For example, a semi-legible password like April48+greenGoose12% is probably equally as strong as an entirely random string like F8*tjE#378FpP6Jm#@4.
- Change it up, often. Once your password game is strong, it’s best to routinely change them. Quarterly is ideal, and the password manager can help. Schwab conveniently prompts you when it’s time to change theirs, as do many other financial institutions.
How else can we assist you with your cybersecurity? Send me your questions … I’m on patrol!