There is so much you can do online. You can access your bank account, shop digitally, and even talk to people miles away. With so much information attached to these accounts, securing them becomes incredibly important. Proper password management is the easiest way to protect yourself and your information. Strong passwords secure your accounts. However, it can be hard to remember them, but writing them down is a risk. This is why password storage and encryption programs are integral to internet security.
Creating a Strong Password
When you create a password, it’s important to make it complex but easy to remember. Generally, the longer and more complicated your password is, the harder it becomes for a program or person to figure it out. Some of the most popular passwords are strings such as “12345” or “abcde,” which are pretty easy to guess. Some tips for stronger passwords are:
- Use a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols.
- Avoid using things like birthdays, important dates, and pet names.
- The longer your password, the stronger it is. Try to use passwords that are at least 12 characters long. Ideally, they would have over 20 characters.
- Turn a memorable phrase into a password. For example, “My favorite movie is Casablanca. It was released in 1942.” becomes “mFmiC.iWri194two.”
- Choose six random words from a dictionary and string them together for a password. The length and inherent randomness make it difficult for both humans and programs to crack your password.
It’s extremely tempting to write down your passwords. Plus, most browsers will automatically store your usernames and passwords for you. However, whenever you write something down, either physically or digitally, it becomes a potential security risk. But that doesn’t mean you need to try and remember every password you’ve ever used. Programs such as KeePass, 1Password, and LastPass encrypt every password you store so that only you can access them. They can even create truly random passwords for you to use. Plus, both LastPass and 1Password feature extensions that let you use them straight from your browser.
Another important point to remember is to not use the same password for multiple sites. If someone were to gain access to a password, you don’t want them to get into more than a single account. You should also regularly change your passwords, especially if you use them often. A good rule of thumb is to change your passwords every six months to a year. When you change your passwords, make sure to follow the tips for choosing strong ones. Cybersecurity studies show that people often pick weaker passwords because it can be difficult to continually choose secure ones.
In addition to a strong password, one of the best ways you can protect yourself is to use some type of two-factor authentication (2FA). This is a second layer of protection that prevents access even if you have the password because it requires another confirmation. The most common types of 2FA include:
- An additional PIN, password, or pattern
- Confirmation sent to a phone or a security token such as a USB device or key fob
- Biometric authorization such as a fingerprint or voiceprint
Practicing proper password management is key when using the internet. Strong passwords result in safer accounts. When you combine a great password with proper storage, encryption, and additional 2FA authorization, those accounts become even more secure.