Just like the batteries in your smoke detectors, it’s a good idea to set a date on the calendar on which you reset your passwords each year. Here are a few tips and tricks as well as some recommended products to help you increase your online security and help you create and use strong online passwords.
Check to See if Your Passwords Are Too Common
Are you using one of the most common passwords (see list here)? If you are, your accounts could be at risk.
Tips for Choosing a Good Password
Passwords are tricky things. You want them to be strong enough to avoid getting hacked, but not too difficult that you can’t remember them. In 2014, certain major companies had serious issues with stolen passwords or were vulnerable to the heartbleed bug. Here are some quick tips:
- Use at least 8 characters or more and include special characters, numbers, and upper and lower case letters
- Don’t use the same password on multiple accounts or sites
- Avoid using words found in the dictionary
Try a Password Manager
If you’re like me, though, you may have over 50 different accounts, each with a different password. How do you remember it all?
To better manage your passwords and keep your accounts safe, try password management software. Some of the more popular ones include KeePass and LastPass – both have free versions. I use and recommend LastPass – the Premium version.
With LastPass, you can save, organize, and access your passwords from any computer. They even have a mobile version. If you’re not sure if your passwords are strong enough, you can run an audit with LastPass that will give you a security score. Read more about the features of LastPass: https://lastpass.com/features_free.php
If LastPass learns that a specific company’s website has been compromised, it will notify you that you should update your passwords for that website.
Implement Two-Factor Authentication
Want even stronger security for your passwords? Then you should consider two-factor authentication, when feasible. Two-factor authentication requires an additional form of identifying that it is really you when you try to log in to an account. Often this authentication is supplied by entering a number sent to you via text message or a code supplied by Google Authenticator.
You can implement two-factor authentication can be used for Gmail, LastPass, Paypal, WordPress, Facebook, Dropbox, and more. Here’s an article that talks more about two-factor authentication: http://lifehacker.com/5938565/heres-everywhere-you-should-enable-two-factor-authentication-right-now