The top priority when it comes to being online is keeping your sensitive and important data safe. Getting hacked is sometimes just an inconvenience, but it can also be costly.
Your passwords are the gateway to your online security and hackers never stop looking for the keys with their code-cracking software. 3 out of 4 people use duplicate passwords with their various accounts, making it easier for hackers to gain access once they find your “key”. 21% of online users say they use passwords that are over 10 years old, and 47% say their passwords are at least 5 years old. With statistics like that, it’s not surprising to find that 40% say they’ve had an online “security incident”.
Not all hackers take what they want and leave. Some hackers stick around to monitor your account over time to see if there is more than they can steal from you before you catch on. The longer you have a password, the greater risk there is of a hacker cracking it.
Frequent password changes and smart password choices can go a long way to improve security. However, according to the Federal Trade Commission, evidence suggests users who change their passwords frequently tend to choose weaker passwords AND change them in predictable ways.
When to Change Your Password
The FTC says that passwords may not need to be changed as frequently as some companies require, but they do offer suggestions for when it might be time:
- If you have reason to believe your password was stolen
- You shared your password with a friend
- You saw someone watch you type in your password
- If you think you gave it to a phishing website
- Your current password is weak
Tips for Password Selection
Even though the best-known advice is to not use the same password for more than one account, this is one of the biggest mistakes many people make. In addition to varying your passwords, consider the following tips as well:
- Do not use personal information as part of your password, including dates, addresses, and names.
- Avoid simple words and phrases.
- Make them grammatically incorrect by using random combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols that are still easy to remember. For example, “password” (which you should NEVER use in any form) could be written as p4$$w0rD.
- When changing a password, choose one that is unrelated to your old one and do not use an old one from another account.
Using Two-Factor Authentication adds another layer of security that makes it much more difficult for hackers to gain access. For more information on this free service, visit https://www.turnon2fa.com/ .
Believe it or not, with all the information out there about using secure passwords that are difficult to guess, check out the five most popular passwords in 2014:
- qwerty (the first six letters typed on the top row by the left hand)
Increase your online security and improve your password habits. A little bit of inconvenience right now can save you months of inconvenience, money, and stress later.