According to CBS, 1.5 million cyber attacks occur annually with 47% of Americans having their personal information stolen via data breaches. It’s more important than ever before to protect your personal information online. Here are a few tips to help you keep your data and passwords private and protected.
1. Write It Down
Write down your passwords the traditional way on a piece of paper and store it in a safe place. You may not be able to retrieve your passwords if they’re stored solely on your PC or laptop in case of a hard drive failure or theft. Information stored on a device may also be vulnerable if you get hacked.
2. Pick a Strong Password
According to CNET, a strong password should have at least 16 characters and combine lower and upper case letters, symbols and spaces. Avoid using any repetition, such as 1, 2, 3.
One way of creating a complicated password that’s easy to remember is by using a phrase. For example, “My favorite cousin Jessica was born in 2016” turns into MfcJwbi2 when you take the first letter of each word in order to create your password.
Experts suggest avoiding using any word that can be found in the dictionary as part of your passwords. For example, “flower,” “house” and “palm trees” are all poor choices.
3. Use a Password Generator and Manager
Password managers like LastPass and RoboForm can be used to automatically fill out your log-in and password information. LastPass also comes with a password generator, which can be used in order to create a secure password instantly.
The drawback of using a password generator is that all of your data will be protected with a single password, which can still be breached. For example, LastPass was breached by hackers in 2015.
4. Never Use the Same Password Twice
According to a study, 31% of hacking victims used the same password on more than one site. Using the same password on numerous sites allows hackers to crack one password and obtain access to your other accounts using the same password. The best solution is to use a unique password on every site and use a password manager in order to keep track of them.
5. Don’t Change Your Passwords Too Often
According to Wired, changing passwords at set intervals is ineffective and a waste of time. It’s better to create one unique and longer password instead of changing them every few months.
6. Avoid Entering Passwords on Public Networks and Devices
Avoid entering your password at public computers such as cyber cafes and libraries. You’re also more vulnerable when using public wi-fi networks such as Starbucks or McDonald’s where hackers can intercept data.
7. Enable Stronger Authentication Tools
Some companies are enabling a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Biometric identifier, such as fingerprint scanners, in order to access your account. Having numerous check points in place minimizes the risk of a breach.
New Apple iPhones and iPads come equipped with Touch ID, which allows users to unlock their phone and make app purchases via fingerprint. Fingerprints are stored via chip instead of Apple’s cloud, making the data extra secure.
8. Scan Your System for Malware
It’s not just the hackers you have to worry about. It’s also possible for someone in real life, such as a significant other or spouse, to install a keylogger on your PC or laptop in order to obtain log-in info. This usually occurs when the other party suspects infidelity. Reduce your risk by installling anti-spyware software, such as McAfee, Panda Anti-Virus or AVG, and scan your system at least once every two weeks. You can reduce your risk further by downloading the latest updates for your OS.