are like keys…
They open things, AND are easily lost, copied and stolen.
Here are a few ways to keep what is behind locked doors safe and secure:
- Long and Strong
Passwords should be “long”, minimum 12, ideally 20+. Complex makes it “strong” with lower and capital letters, a few numbers and special characters like #$%^&.
- Not Easily Guessed
Avoid personal information like birthdays, anniversaries, addresses, nicknames, favorite sports, kids, pets. Nothing that could be guessed by snooping on your social media sites. Try avoid any dictionary words. This is where poor spelling is a plus. Nothing like the first row of letters QWERTY, 12345, 1qazxsw2 or the most used password “password”.
- Change Regularly
Some websites suggest changing annually, some only when there is a breach. Stay informed of sites that have been hacked.
- Safe and Secure
Do not keep your passwords on sticky notes, under your keyboard, in a file on your computer or even saved in your browser. These are the first place thieves will look. Instead, use an encrypted password vault; many are free and easy to use. Our favorite is Bitwarden https://bitwarden.com/; it is Free and Open Source.
Every lock has its own key, every website and device needs its own password. Different key for your car, house, a shed and the safety deposit box. Websites and devices need different passwords as well. A thief that gets one password from a breach for one site, then has access to all your accounts. Also, do not slightly modify passwords such as Facebook – FB12345, Gmail – GM12345, Amazon – Am12345… establishing a pattern only makes you just as vulnerable.
- Extra Layer
In a car and stopped by police you might produce your license and registration. At a bank you may need license and social security number. The digital world has two proofs of identity too. One is your password and the other is usually a code sent to your phone or email. For your phone it could be your face or a finger print. This is 2FA or 2 Factor Authentication. Yes, it is annoying and an extra step, but it is meant to keep your valuable data safe. Use this especially on your banking, shopping and main email sites.
When you are done on a sensitive site like banking, shopping or your main email, logout and close your browser when done for the day or about to travel with your laptop. This way, when you come back, you will need to enter your credentials again.