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Staying Safe on the Internet: Why all the Hullabaloo about Passwords?

Staying Safe on the Internet: Why all the Hullabaloo about Passwords?

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine had his PayPal account hacked. Thankfully, the perpetrators hadn’t gotten to playing around with the cash in the account, thanks to PayPal’s email notification system and the 1-2 business days it takes to transfer cash from the bank.

This is one of the many faces of Internet safety and security that proves once again that cyber security is a big deal. Passwords are an important part of cyber security and usually the first line of defense when it comes to staying safe while roaming the Internet. Most of us continue to fall victim to password-related security incidences, even with the large, scary pop-ups and descriptions on signup forms and login pages warning us of impending doom if we dare use weak or repetitive passwords.

The Stats

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    Poor password habits are actually more common than you think. Over half of internet users use the same password over two or more sites, according to a recent TeleSign survey. Many of these passwords often remain unchanged for years, making it easy for hackers to crack them.

    Additionally, for the 2,000 individuals who participated in this survey, close to half of them had at least one incident involving password theft or an account that was hacked.

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    The 2012 LinkedIn data breach also provided a glimpse into the ugly state of affairs when it came to passwords and information security. Analysts who looked at the data said that they had decrypted about 90% of passwords obtained from the breach in just under 3 days.

    Not surprisingly, the most common password was “123456,” closely followed by “LinkedIn,” and “password.” Identity thieves or hackers don’t need to be IT-savvy individuals to crack such passwords, which unfortunately happens a little too often.

    Practicing Good Password Habits

    Small Password Story

      Password theft can result in a number of unwarranted effects, both personally and financially. So it always pays to be level-headed and aware when coming up with passwords and when you are giving them out on a site.

      There are a number of simple, practical steps you can take to ensure you protect yourself on the Internet. Here are some of the best.

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      1. Come up with a Strong Password

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        This is the oldest rule in the book. A password with a mix of numbers, alphabetical letters, and symbols will go a long way in deterring potential hackers. Also avoid personalized passwords with any of your names because these are the simplest to break.

        If you don’t want to spend time coming up with strong passwords, you can opt to use a random password generator to come up with a good password. Choose one that generates passwords that make sense since these will be easier to remember.

        2. Use Two-factor Authentication

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          Passwords are only one of the main lines of defense when it comes to online safety and security. Even the strongest passwords will benefit greatly from the addition of an extra layer of security.

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          Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is a technique that combines traditional passwords with an extra layer of security such as your cell phone. When you (or a potential hacker) try to log into an account with 2FA, a text or phone call verification will be required in addition to the correct password.

          Many websites have automatically integrated 2FA into their processes, especially the likes of PayPal that deal with sensitive personal and financial information.

          3. Use Unique Passwords on Different Platforms

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            Many of us find it hard to remember multiple passwords, which makes it tempting to create one password for multiple accounts. Over 73% of Internet users practice this habit that has seen only six unique passwords being used to protect an average of 24 accounts.

            If you have several online accounts and have trouble remembering the passwords to each of them, you can use a password manager to store your passwords. This nifty piece of software will not only store your passwords, but can also be used to log you into your accounts, change or update your passwords.

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            Practice Internet Safety

            Social media and online financial transactions have grown exponentially over the past couple of years. For many of these transactions, a single password is usually the only thing protecting members of the online community from identity and financial theft.

            Practicing good password habits will not only protect you from hackers, but will also save you time that you could have wasted trying to recover lost information or funds.

            Featured photo credit: geralt via pixabay.com

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            Vikas Agrawal

            Vikas is the co-founder of Infobrandz, an Infographic design agency that offers creative visual content solutions to medium to large companies.

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            Last Updated on May 7, 2021

            Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

            Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

            I have been an early-riser for over a year now. Monday through Friday I wake up at 5:00 AM without hitting the snooze button even once. I never take naps and rarely feel tired throughout the day. The following is my advice on how to start your day (everyday) at 5:00 AM.The idea of waking up early and starting the day at or before the sunrise is the desire of many people. Many highly successful people attribute their success, at least in part, to rising early. Early-risers have more productive mornings, get more done, and report less stress on average than “late-risers.” However, for the unaccustomed, the task of waking up at 5:00 AM can seem extremely daunting. This article will present five tips about how to physically wake up at 5:00 AM and how to get yourself mentally ready to have a productive day.

            Many people simply “can’t” get up early because they are stuck in a routine. Whether this is getting to bed unnecessarily late, snoozing repetitively, or waiting until the absolute last possible moment before getting out of bed, “sleeping in” can easily consume your entire morning. The following tips will let you break the “sleeping in” routine.

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            Relocate your alarm clock.

            Having an alarm clock too close to your bed is the number one reason people simply cannot get up in the morning. If your alarm clock is within arms reach of your bed, or if you can turn your alarm clock off without getting out of bed, you are creating an unnecessarily difficult situation for yourself. Before I became an early-riser, there were many times that I would turn off my alarm without even waking up enough to remember turning it off. I recommend moving your alarm clock far enough away from your bed that you have to get completely out of bed to turn it off. I keep my alarm clock in the bathroom. This may not be possible for all living arrangements, however, I use my cellphone as an alarm clock and putting it in the bathroom makes perfect sense. In order to turn off my alarm I have to get completely out of bed, and since going to the restroom and taking a shower are the first two things I do everyday, keeping the alarm clock in the bathroom streamlines the start of my morning.

            Scrap the snooze.

            The snooze feature on all modern alarm clocks serves absolutely no constructive purpose. Don’t even try the “it helps me slowly wake up” lie. I recommend buying an alarm that does not have a snooze button. If you can’t find an alarm without a snooze button, never read the instructions so you will never know how long your snooze button lasts. Not knowing whether it waits 10 minutes or 60 minutes should be enough of a deterrent to get you to stop using it.

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            Change up your buzzer

            If you use the same buzzer day in and day out, you begin to develop a tolerance to the sound. The alarm clock will slowly become less effective at waking you up over time. Most newer alarm clocks will let you set a different buzzer tone for the different days of the week. If you change your buzzer frequently, you will have an easier time waking up.

            Make a puzzle

            If you absolutely cannot wake up without repetitive snoozing, try making a puzzle for yourself. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that the longer your alarm is going off, the more awake you will become. Try making your alarm very difficult to turn off by putting it under the sink, putting it under the bed, or better yet, by forcing yourself to complete a puzzle to turn it off. Try putting your alarm into a combination-locked box and make yourself put in the combination in order to turn off the alarm — it’s annoying, but extremely effective!

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            Get into a routine

            Getting up at 5:00 AM is much easier if you are doing it Monday through Friday rather than sporadically during the week. I recommend setting an alarm once that repeats everyday. Also, going to bed at about the same time every night is an important factor to having a productive morning. Learn how much sleep you need to get in order to not feel exhausted the following day. Some people can get by on 4-6 hours while most need 7-8.

            Have a reason

            Make sure you have a specific reason to get up in the morning. Getting up at 5:00 AM just for the heck of it is a lot more difficult than if you are getting up early to plan your day, pay bills, go for a jog, get an early start on work, etc. I recommend finding something you want to do for yourself in the morning. It will be a lot easier to get up if you are guaranteed to do something fun for yourself — compare this to going on vacation. You probably have no problem waking up very early on vacation or during holidays. My goal every morning is to bring that excitement to the day by doing something fun for myself.

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            As I previously mentioned, I have been using these tips for a very long time. Joining the world of early-risers has been a great decision. I feel less stressed, I get more done, and I feel happier than I did when I was a late-riser. If you follow these tips you can become an early-riser, too. Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? What works best for you? Let us know in the comments.

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