If you’ve been keeping up with the news lately, then you’ve no doubt heard several stories about consumers becoming victims because of a security breach. The security breach at Home Depot alone led to 53 million email addresses being stolen. Although you can’t do much to control what happens at retail centers (unless you want to pay cash for everything), you can protect yourself by ensuring hackers aren’t able to access your email when it’s stolen.
The first line of defense in protecting yourself from unauthorized access to your email or devices is to create strong password.
How do you make a strong password?
A password needs to meet several criteria to be effective. Here’s what we recommend:
1. Your password should be at least 8 characters.
2. Your password should not contain your user name, email address, or date of birth.
3. Your password should not contain a complete word (i.e. “password”).
4. Your [new] password should be significantly different than your previous one.
5. Your password should contain special characters (i.e. ?#*!).
As a general rule, your password should contain characters from all of the following groups:
If your password meets all of the above criteria, you’ll be in great shape!
You know as well as we do that you need more than one password. Every email account, device, and online membership requires one. We recommend having a different password for each account to avoid leaving yourself vulnerable for attack. With all these passwords needed, how do you keep them organized?
Here are a few ways to organize your passwords and keep them safe:
1. Use a protected spreadsheet that only you have access to. Google Docs or Excel will work fine.
2. Use a third-party tool like LastPass to save them. You can also use this tool to help you create strong passwords.
3. Go old school and keep them in a notebook. Be sure you’re the only one who knows where it’s at!
Need help coming up with a strong password? There are several generators online that will help you create passwords that NOBODY will guess. Here are a few:
ConsumersAdvocate.org has put together a top 10 list of password generators and managers. We’re sure you’ll find one there, but if not…
Strong Password Generator provides a simple interface for creating extremely strong passwords. Simply pick the number of characters you wish to use and then click the “generate password” button. Don’t forget to look at the options to add special characters or to show the phonetic spelling.
Secure Password Generator works much like Strong Password Generator. Input the number of characters you want in your password and then check or uncheck the appropriate boxes. Click “generate secure password” and you’re all set.
How do you manage your passwords? Tell us your process for staying secure in the comments!