In this day in age it seems like you can’t trust anyone. It’s kind of sad when you think about it. When I was growing up, (and I’m not that old) we left our doors unlocked. I did grow up in rural Iowa though so that might have had something to do with it. But people used to leave their keys in their cars when they ran into the store. We didn’t worry that when we came out the car would have been stolen. As for as computers go it’s impossible to know who is checking out your data. Do you shop online? Do you pay your bills online? Every time you log on to a site you have to have a password now. We all have trouble remembering passwords, but it’s not a good idea to use something easy like your birthday or your kids’ birthday. These are dates and numbers that hackers will try. Check out 10 tips for stronger, more secure passwords.
- Length matters: Longer passwords are harder for hackers to figure out. Use a password that is at least 8 characters or longer. Try combining names and dates to make it easy for you to remember, but harder for a hacker to discover.
- Change it up: Yep, I want you to come up with different passwords for different sites. It is possible that your password for one site could be compromised and then they can use your password to access other sites that you frequent. You may be wondering what are the odds of that happening and while I can’t tell you the exact odds I can tell you that you don’t want someone to steal your identity. If someone gets your password they can find you on Facebook and see what you are into and then that will give them clues for where else to try to login.
- Be different: Use a symbol in your password. People are less likely to guess a password with an @ symbol in the middle of it. Or use a capital letter or a number in your password. The more unusual you can make it the harder it will be for someone to figure it out. If you use a symbol you can use it as part of something easy for you to remember. Something you like, Big$$$$$ or something funny like that.
- Make up your own acronym: For example, you could do Sghsin1985. This stands for Sam graduated high school in 1985. This is a strong password because it’s not easy to guess, it’s longer than 8 characters, it blends numbers with letters and there is a capital letter in it. If you want to be even cleverer you can substitute the s for high school and use $ in it’s place. (Sgh$in1985)
- Hide your passwords: Okay, I know what you are thinking. How am I supposed to remember what password I used for which site if I’m going to use different ones for everything? Feel free to write them down, but don’t use a sticky note stuck to your computer. If someone were to break into your home they could see that and take it figuring that they will continue to steal from you online. Hide your passwords in your home. Tape it in the back of a reference book or something.
- Beware of the computer you’re using: With cyber cafes out there and libraries that let you get online you need to be careful with how secure the computers are. Even our home computers might not be as secure with being able to access the Internet through our phones and tablets.
- Don’t pick a random word: You may think that just picking some random word that is longer than 8 characters would be a good choice, but it isn’t. There are programs out there that hackers use that will literally run through all of the words in the dictionary. Always change it up. If your favorite word is curmudgeon then use it, but add some sort of number with it either before or after it or a symbol.
- Avoid using personal information: One of the biggest mistakes people make when coming up with a password is by using their kids’ names or dog’s name or anniversary date. All of these things are available for hackers to find and they can use that information against you. Feel free to use this information in combination with other things though.
- Try not to use repeated numbers: You might be tempted to use 8 characters in a row on your keyboard. (wertyuio) This looks on the surface like it would be a good idea, but hackers are onto these types of passwords. That same as 12345678 is a bad choice. Also, don’t just spell something backwards. Hackers are onto that trick too.
- Test your new password: Once you have done all the legwork and come up with what you think is the perfect password you can go HERE and check the strength. If you need to make adjustments after that you can.
Submitted by Christine Kane