7 Best Password Security Tips and Tactics
The last thing you want is to open up your phone to discover that your bank account, Facebook page, or Instagram profile has been hacked. A malicious hacker may have drained your funds or spammed your followers. The consequences of a hacked account could be dire especially for businesses and organizations, leaving your IT support services with a lot of work to clean up any security breaches.
Not only is something like that embarrassing (and, in the case of the bank account hack, potentially disastrous), it’s also relatively easy to avoid. How? By improving your passwords. In this blog post, we’ll look at the seven best password security tips and tactics so that you can have confidence in your online safety.
Security Tip #1: The longer the password, the better your security
The first rule of great password is to make it ten characters long – and that’s just the minimum. The longer and more complex your password is, the harder it will be for both humans and computer programs to figure out what it is.
You know how so many websites want you to include a number, upper- and lower-case letters, and a symbol in your password? It’s for good reason! Creating a password that is several unique characters long is one of the best securities you can have.
Security Tip #2: Stay away from personal details
Personal details are a big no-no when it comes to password security tips. Remembering passwords – especially long ones – is tough, especially if you don’t use an app or notebook to keep track of your different online accounts. Because of this, most people create their passwords using important dates, the names of their children or pets, or even favorite movie characters.
The problem is that, with a little research, most of that information is available online to just about anyone. To beat the hackers, try coming up with completely random combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols. (Even if it’s harder to memorize.)
Security Tip #3: Don’t re-use the same password – ever
Everyone has re-used passwords at least once (and usually much more often than that). It makes sense to us because if you’ve taken the trouble to memorize your ten-character-long, complicated, completely unpersonal password…you don’t want to create a whole new one. And another. And another. But if you want your accounts to remain secure, that’s exactly what you need to do.
If you use the same password for several accounts, hackers will only have to break into one to unlock the rest. So sit down for a few minutes to brainstorm several unique passwords – it won’t take very long and you’ll have better peace of mind.
Security Tip #4: Switch up normal words
Another online security no-no is to create your password out of words that can be found in a dictionary. Using a phrase, a sentence, or even just one, uncommon word might seem like a good idea at the time, but hackers’ algorithms make these passwords easy prey.
If there’s a particular word or words you’d like to use, replace certain letters with symbols or numbers – or swap the letters around into an anagram. Just don’t leave the words in their original format (no spaces between the words isn’t good enough, by the way).
Security Tip #5: Don’t employ obvious techniques
Using ‘password’ as your password might seem clever, but it’s one of the first things hackers will try. The same goes for ‘12345’ or ‘QWERTY’. You also need to stay away from number and symbol substitutions that a two-year-old could spot – like using a zero instead of an ‘o’. Even though the computers that hackers employ are high-tech, you can almost always outsmart them by having your passwords make absolutely no sense.
If all else fails, try smashing your hand onto your keyboard (not too hard though!) and watching what emerges – nine times out of ten, you’ll get a great password. Just be sure to record it somewhere until you can memorize it.
Security Tip #6: Switch out your old passwords
So after going through all the above password security tips, there’s something else you need to know. All those awesome, secure passwords you just created? You’re going to need to change them every few weeks or months. I know that it’s pretty unfair. But letting your passwords stagnate for months, years, or even decades is an open invitation to hackers.
Sure, there are hundreds of millions of people online every day and the chances that you will be hacked are slim. But that’s what everyone who gets hacked thought – right before it actually happened. So even though it’s a pain, take a few minutes every couple months to swap out your old passwords for shiny, secure new ones. You won’t regret it.
And if you’re having trouble keeping all those passwords straight…
Security Tip #7: Give password managers a try
In our world of phones and apps, a good password manager is just a few taps away. You don’t have to use one (a notebook is often all you need to record your passwords) but it’s certainly convenient to have all your online security information a couple seconds away. Of course, it goes without saying that you should have strong security measures for your phone (and the app itself).