Your password is one of your best and first lines of defense against cyber-criminals, allowing you to keep your various online accounts (some of which include your financial information) safe. It also prevents people you know or who might be interested in learning things about you to get an upper hand from snooping on you too much.
Even with all of this being the case, however, a lot of people still don’t use secure passwords, and many choose one of the most common passwords imaginable. These extremely common passwords are almost universally tried by hackers as a quick route into your data, which they will often steal in order to use your identity.
Here is a short guide to what you should be doing with your passwords:
An extremely important question is “What goes into a strong password?” and the answer has a relatively simple basis to it. You need to have as many different types of characters possible within your password and you want to make it as long as you possibly can. Ideally, this would be a series of characters, numbers, and letters (both upper and lower case) that may make some meaning to you but are pointless to anyone else.
One of the important things to remember about a password is that anyone who knows you should not be able to guess it. Therefore you should scratch out the name of your cat from the list, as well as any other names with personal significance to you. Birthdays should also never be used, as they are often components of the most common passwords out there. In fact, you should avoid any word found in the dictionary because some hacking programs try those first.
If you are ever uncertain, you can always use a random password generator and then commit that to memory. The only limitation is what you think you can remember.
How Often Should You Change Them?
While a strong password should stand for a long time, it is best to get into the practice of changing them often and using different ones for different websites. That way you can keep anyone who cares guessing, throw off anyone who is snooping on you already without you knowing, and force yourself to think about your own internet security once in a while.
Now some of your more important accounts might force you to change your password once every certain interval of time. This might be anywhere from one month to one year. The most common interval, however, and the one that you should use if possible, is roughly every three months. Try to make it a recurring calendar date every few months of so and leave it at that.
Protecting Your Password After You’ve Created It
Your password is best when it is committed to your memory and your memory alone, the only place where it is completely safe. After this, passwords are best kept in a locked cabinet or safe on a physical piece of paper. Some would argue keeping a protected file on a flash drive or your computer, but this means that if anyone gets access to your computer and those files you can consider your security breached. Note that you should never leave any password of yours out in the open on a note or in an easily accessible drawer.
You should also be making sure that you are using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) like Express VPN whenever you are out using a risky public networks. If you use an unprotected network without any protection yourself, just about anyone with an extremely simple setup will be able to just come around and browse any data sent over the network. This includes any and all usernames and passwords you use. Unfortunately this means that in this case the strength of your password doesn’t matter so much as you having measures to protect it.
Finally, and I can never stress this enough, never tell anyone your password to any account. This includes even the people close to you because they might want to take advantage of you or otherwise turn on you at some point in the future, and it is best you know everything that is going on in your digital life. It may be inconvenient at times, but it is more than worth it.
I hope that this article serve as a starting guide to making decisions about your own password use and that you will be much safer as a result. Thank you for reading.