Sometimes, I feel that my brain is full! We are all bombarded with information on so many fronts and quite frankly, I often feel like I don’t have room for much more! A quick scroll on my socials and I’m inundated with news from friends (which I love) plus ads plus multiple news updates. I open my emails, and the same happens! So much information!! So little time!
So, in the spirit of being brief and not overloading, I’m going to focus on one easy yet powerful way you can make a positive impact on your online safety – how you manage your password. Of course, I could add many more strategies to this list but let’s keep it simple – our brains are full!!
Why Are Passwords So Important?
Passwords are the key to everything we do online. Whether we are logging in to our emails, social media platforms, online banking, or favorite shopping websites – your password is your way in. And if you’re anything like me, you probably have multiple passwords. The last time I checked, I had over 100 different passwords stored in my True Key password manager!
These small codes are so incredibly important because in short, they are the only thing stopping a hacker from accessing your online accounts. In many cases, they are your only defense strategy against a hacker taking over your accounts and creating havoc.
Fortunately, there are several steps we can take to ensure we nail this password thing and minimize the risk of being hacked. Here are my top five:
1. Don’t Share Your Passwords – no exceptions!!
I have been saying to my kids for years: passwords are like toothbrushes – they are NOT to be shared! No exceptions. It doesn’t matter how much you love your best friend or girlfriend, your password is your password. When you are young and donning rose-colored glasses, you often don’t factor in that things can change. Relationships can sour and romance can die. If someone has access to your online accounts and they have hurt feelings then they have an opportunity to create chaos. And we’ve all read the stories…
2. Use Different Passwords For Each Account
Yes, I agree – this is a big pain! But it is probably one of the best ways of protecting yourself and here’s why. If you use the same password for each of your online accounts and your account is hacked then the hacker has access to all of your online accounts: your social media platforms, your banking, your entire life!
3. Turn On 2 Factor Authentication Where Possible
It will add another step to your login process but choosing 2-factor authentication (or multi-factor authentication) is another small yet powerful way to keep your password secure by adding another layer of protection to your passwords. In most cases, the additional factor is a code or a token sent to your mobile phone. Sometimes, a separate app can also be used to generate a code or token that will confirm it is really you trying to log in!
4. Create Long and Complex Passwords
Some experts believe length is more important than complexity but I say embrace both! If you can create a complex 16 character password that includes lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols then you are doing very well! I am personally a fan of the crazy, nonsensical sentence. For example – GrassisRed&Blue7 – silly, nonsensical but memorable. I believe it’s all about making them hard to guess but easy to remember. And remember to NEVER use information in your passwords that other people might know about you or that is also included in your social media accounts eg your kids’ or pet’s names.
5. Use A Password Manager
I am sure my longevity has improved dramatically since using a password manager! Password managers, or vaults, are an absolute no-brainer. Not only do they store your passwords securely across your chosen devices, but they also help you create complex passwords that no human could even contemplate. I have it installed on both my laptop and my phone and it works seamlessly between both devices. It’s time to throw away your little black book of passwords, people! You’ll never look back once this whole password management process is automated.
So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed at where to start with your digital safety this New Year then I implore you to make this one small change. Nailing your password strategy is without doubt one of the best ways of shoring up your online safety!
Happy New Year!!
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