The first line of defense against cyber criminals (hackers) are passwords, but weak and easy to guess passwords aren’t much of a defense. It’s important to create strong passwords that are unique to each of your vital accounts. It’s also especially important to update the passwords often. Your GreenGeeks web hosting services comes standard with 24/7 monitoring of servers and includes advanced firewall systems to protect against most attacks, however a weak password is like leaving your front door unlocked. All the cyber criminals have to do to gain access to your precious stuff is to just try and open your door.
Here are some tips to create a strong password and keep them secure.
#1. Keep your passwords unique.
Having the same password to all of your accounts is like using the same key for your car, office and home. If a criminal gains access to one, he or she has access to it all.
But doesn’t using a unique user name help prevent this? Yes, but using the same password gives hackers half of what they need to gain access to your information.
Do you leave your car keys sitting on the table at a restaurant when you go the restroom? If someone swipes it, all they have to do is quickly figure out which car is yours in the parking lot.
So refrain from using the same passwords. It may be a pain to manage, but it’s far worth the effort. If it’s a nuisance to you, it’s definitely going to be way harder for a cyber criminal to gain access to your critical accounts.
#2. Create a password that consists of various characters.
The more complex the password, the harder it is for someone to guess. Ensure that your password is at least 8-10 characters long and has numbers. Also be sure to add symbols and a mix of UPPER and lowercase letters to make your password harder to crack.
Never use easy to guess passwords like “password” or “12345.” While this may seem like an obvious no-no, you’d be amazed by how many people still rely on these kinds of simple passwords.
And definitely don’t use easy to find information like your phone number, date of birth, social security number and the like. If there’s anytime to be creative and original, it’s when you’re creating your password.
For example, you could create something like: 1L0v3C4l1F0rn14! Can you see the pattern in this one? It says, “I love California!” if you were to include symbols, numbers and letters.
This is just an example, but you can see my point.
#3. Verify the strength of the password.
There a ton of tools out there that will allow you to test the strength of a password such as Kaspersky Password Check. This is a free tool from a major anti-virus developer on a secured server. You can rest easy knowing Kaspersky isn’t storing your passwords.
Another method is to always take advantage of random password generators when applicable. For example, WordPress is built with a generator when setting up user accounts that is quite extensive.
In reality, most systems nowadays will analyze your passwords when creating them and let you know if it’s too easy or not. Many industries from banking to gaming embrace this concept, and you would be wise to take advantage of it.
#4. Leave yourself clues to the password.
A lot of people avoid using stronger passwords because they are more difficult to remember than the name of a loved one or a favorite pet. There are actually two great and easy methods to help you remember what an advanced password is:
- Write it Down
There’s nothing wrong with writing down a password as long as you don’t leave the note laying around or next to your computer system.
- Create a Clue
Operating systems such as Windows will give you a chance to leave a clue behind as to what your password is. You can also write these clues down to help you remember. Make it something only you can identify.
#5. Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi with passwords.
A lot of places offer free Wi-Fi today so people can browse the Internet whether they’re sipping coffee or sitting down to lunch. Unfortunately, a lot of these systems are unsecured and easy to hack from the outside.
Because of the lack of security, you want to avoid using your advanced passwords on an open network like this. All it takes is a hacker with a bit of skill and he or she can intercept your passwords from literally thin air.
In fact, this is one of the driving forces behind why VPN networks are growing in popularity. They hide your information and help cloak your activity even while on a free Wi-Fi access point.
#6. Avoid using public systems with passwords.
Never trust a public computer to keep your information safe. You never know what machine has key logger malware, which records every keystroke you make.
While things like net cafe’s and public computers are growing rare in popularity thanks to the power of smartphones, it’s still a good rule of thumb to avoid entering passwords to important accounts on an open computer system.
In an age where identity theft and cyber crime is incredibly high, you don’t want to take the risk.
#7. Always log off of devices or online services.
If you do use a public computer, or in a position where others can use your device, always log off when you’re done. Even closing a browser window doesn’t necessarily close the connection to the website.
In this instance, it’s easy for someone to change passwords or take information from an unattended device or website. If you’re out in public, set your smartphone to lock after a specific time period. Most of these units lock by default.
For example, you can set some smartphones to lock themselves if it doesn’t detect your home Wi-Fi network. Which means it’s locked if someone comes into your house and steals the unit, making it exceptionally difficult to access your online information.
Many phones can do this, and you want to take advantage of any security feature your device has available.
Keep Yourself Protected
We’ve written a couple of articles on how to change your passwords at GreenGeeks:
If you have any questions or concerns, you’re always welcome to contact our support via live chat, e-mail or phone.