According to a 2015 Consumer Account Security Report by TeleSign, 2,000 people in the U.S. and the U.K., almost 75% of consumers use the same password for multiple accounts. No wonder 2 out of every 5 people in the study reported having their account hacked, their password stolen or getting notified their personal information had been stolen.
Using anti-virus software and secure network connections are important when protecting yourself online, but there is no denying a strong password is the simplest defense against online attacks. Here are a few tips that will help strengthen yours.
Make it long – at least eight characters.
Some sites may limit the length of your password, but when you can use at least eight characters, do so. The longer your password, the harder it is for hackers and scammers to crack it.
Use abbreviations for phrases that represent milestones in your life.
For example, the sentence “I learned to ride my bike when I was 7” could become “1L2rMbW1w7.” This is a great tip to create memorable, secure passwords. Some sites may allow you to include spaces in your passwords as well−for example, “1L 2r Mb W1 w7.”
Use numbers, upper and lower case letters, and special characters.
Instead of using a 1, use a lower or upper case L or an exclamation mark (!). Swap the number 3 for the number symbol (#) or the letter E, and add special characters like the dollar symbol ($) or @ to reinforce your password. If you add special characters, “!L2Rmbw!w$” becomes another option for the sentence “I learned to ride my bike when I was 7.”
Avoid public information.
Thanks to social media and over-sharing it’s not hard for scammers to uncover personal information. Play it smart and avoid using words such as your name, relatives’ or pets’ names, birthdays, zip codes, street names or your hometown, to name a few.
Use a different password for each site.
It is tempting to reuse your go-to-password everywhere, but you should strive to never re-use a password. Instead, you should create a new password for each site you frequently visit. Even creating variations of one password is not recommended. Password management programs, like LastPass, Dashlane or Sticky Password, can help you safely manage passwords across multiple sites ands platforms.
Keep it under wraps.
You wouldn’t share your toothbrush, so why would you share your password? We’ve all seen a password written on a sticky note stuck to a computer monitor. Never do this. To stay secure, passwords must be kept private. Leaving them in plain sight or saving them on your computer makes you vulnerable. Again, for keeping up with multiple passwords.