How many passwords do you have across all your devices? When was the last time you updated them?
According to a survey by Google and Harris Poll, 59% of users reuse a password for all their accounts. The accounts range from social media, bank accounts, mobile applications, and work accounts.
Password security seems simple; you open an account key as “123456789” and think all is well. Shock on you!
How about making it a bit difficult, “@12LKMVG”? Wrong! Not with malware like keyloggers.
You can never be 100% secure until you take action to protect yourself. With everything becoming digital, password security is a crucial part of your online transactions and protecting your information from cybercriminals.
The ransomware attack is the most common cyber threat, with 199.7 million cases recorded in the third quarter of 2020.
The statistics are crazy. But read on to learn some measures you can take to ensure no one is preying on your online data.
But first, hackers are behind why you need to secure your passwords. Knowing them can make a follow-up case easier for you in case of a breach.
Three Types of Hackers
Hackers come in three groups. Black, white, and the inbetweeners know us, grey hackers.
1. Black Hackers
These are the malicious lot. They gain access to your login credentials, private data, including financial and personal, for monetary gain.
Black hackers create malware that infiltrates computer systems to harvest data. With the information, they can either steal from you, manipulate or destroy the data.
2. White Hackers
White hackers, also known as ethical hackers, are authorized by the government or large corporations to access systems to check for vulnerabilities. Ethical hackers use black hack techniques to test penetrations, monitor security systems, and assess the findings.
You can get formal training and proper certification of the same from recognized institutions.
3. Grey Hackers
They borrow from the above two. Grey hackers penetrate systems, check for vulnerabilities, then contact the owners, and ask for compensation. Failure to which they threaten to expose the weakness in your systems.
Password Security Tips
Your computer and other devices bought from www.lenovo.com needs to be safe both online and offline. A hacker could be your colleague or your neighbor.
How do you keep yourself safe?
1. Get an Anti-Virus and Secure Your Devices Using a Password Manager
As mentioned above, if not well secured, your devices can be the first place hackers hit when looking for your information. Remembering all the 15 complex passwords you have might be a challenge, right? Additionally, you might create a strong password, but keyboard loggers can easily read all your keystrokes enabling hackers to crack your passwords.
To guard against this, get anti-virus and keep it updated always.
Make use of the password manager in keeping your passwords safe. Passwords managers are strongly encrypted, and in case of a malware attack on your computer, your data is secure.
How a does password manager protects you?
- It quickly and easily creates all the complex passwords you need
- You only need to remember one password(for the password manager) and it retains all the rest on point one above
- You enjoy more security from the two-factor authentication
In addition to an antivirus password manager, make use of your browser’s password managers as well. Google Chrome and others have inbuilt password managers and are user-friendly. Like the one above, they suggest complex passwords and keep them safe.
2. Strong, Creative, and Long Passwords
If password managers are not your cup of tea, you can do the creation yourself. But for a password to be deemed strong, the below factors need to be considered;
- Use of both upper and lower cases
- Use phrases rather than words
- Longer than six letters, numbers, or characters
- Mix letters, letters, and characters
- Get creative like the gamers
Gamers are a creative lot. They combine letters, characters, and numbers, and they don’t stop there.
Some misspell the said passwords on purpose or change letters to digits and vice versa, making it harder for hackers to crack them. Take the case of the phrase, for example, “I never look back to 2020!” Gamers might have something like, “1N3veRl00KbacK02!02.
The above password is complex for a hacker system but easy for you to remember because it is a familiar phrase.
3. Update Your Passwords Regularly
When did you last change your password? Are you among the 35% of people who change their passwords after a security breach?
Like your toothbrush, 90 days is the longest you should have a password if you are to protect yourself. For strong passwords, the update period might be longer, but it’s a good practice to take on.
While updating your passwords, audit your accounts as well. Stale and dormant accounts are another vulnerable area if not taken care of. These outdated accounts leave you wide open for identity theft. Delete all unused necessary information and get rid of such accounts.
4. Make Use of the Two Factor Authentication Feature
As for the password manager above, the 2FA gives you a second layer of protection. The email password is the first protection layer. Go further and use either your mobile number, alternative email, or two-factor authentication applications.
The idea is, every time you log on from an unauthorized device, you either receive a text message or an email with a verification code to confirm your identity and permission to use.
5. Don’t Make It Personal
Do you love your pet? How about your favorite football team or your dream car? All these make for easy passwords but have you ever thought how easy it’s to find your information online.
If you ever played one of those cute fancy online quizzes, online phishing is smart to guise under those questions and collect your data and sell to higher bidders. Examples of these questions include your pet’s name, favorite game, and spouse’s name.
Be extra careful, and if you need to answer these questions, it’s not a crime to use references. Make use of movie characters and their pets as answers. Your favorite songs work as well.
6. Take Care When Using Public Access
Your office computer is personal but not private. For things like your bank account, only use your devices for access. Enable the two-step factor to make it more secure if you have to access it.
Don’t write passwords down on a sticky note and place it behind your monitor. The office is not your bedroom, remember.
This goes for library WI-FI access in colleges as well. Whenever you find the need to use a public computer for access, always remember to log out after use and delete the history.
A notebook with all your passwords at home is an excellent offline backup. But the easiest way for someone to sabotage you. Avoid writing passwords down and make use of password managers always.
7. Different Passwords for Different Logins
Creating a password remains a personal preference, and you can use what you fancy so long as it’s safe. However, keep away from replicating.
Your Facebook and Instagram are family but keep the passwords different. For Gmail account, remember it connects many of your accounts, including the Play Store. Make the password strong and different from any other accounts.
Any website you visit, cookies are stored, ensure the phrases and words you use for passwords don’t create a rhyme.
8. Make Use of Tracking Tools for Your Passwords
No matter the stringent measures you take to keep safe, you can’t prevent password leakage completely through malicious online hacks. However, you can monitor whether your accounts are compromised in various ways.
For example, you can make use of Google’s Password Checkup or Mozilla’s Firefox Monitor. These tools show you if your email addresses and passwords have been altered in a data breach, thus allowing you to take action.
Another great asset is Have I Been Pwned. It shows if your passwords and emails have been compromised.
You’re as Secure as Your Current Password
Being vigilant is your best protection when it comes to password security. That involves knowing if the dark web has your email and passwords.
You can build a strong password and prevent your account from being compromised if you follow the above password protection tips. This is the need to remain safe from the hackers’ attacks today. These hackers might be known or unknown to you. Do not give them an open invitation to use your details or abuse it.
To read other tech tips and guides, keep checking our new posts.