There’s been a lot of high profile account hacks in the news lately, from celebrities such as Mila Kunis and Scarlett Johansson, to reporters at Wired and The New York Times. While it’s easy to think it won’t happen to you, the truth is normal people get their accounts hacked each and every day, which is why password security is so important.
A recent study found that the most common passwords people use are "password," "123456," and "12345678."1 No wonder cybercriminals are finding it so easy to get into our accounts! Even users who try to create strong passwords often make the mistake of incorporating personal information such as their birth date or pet’s name into their passwords. If a cybercriminal wants to guess your password, they start with the things they can find out about you by doing a simple search online, and often these personal details can be found on social networking sites and in online records.
So, choosing complicated passwords that do not include personal information is important. But remember, even if you choose difficult passwords, you have to be careful not to reuse them. If you’re like most people, you probably have dozens of online accounts and it’s difficult to remember the usernames and passwords for each of them. If you start reusing the same username and password combinations, you put yourself at even greater risk. A cybercriminal could potentially gain access to a number of your accounts, potentially giving them all the information they need to steal your identity.
To make your passwords truly secure, they need to be difficult to guess and vary across accounts, yet easy for you to remember. How do you do this without keeping password cheat sheet next to your computer and devices that someone could potentially find? One great tip is to use a password manager that can save all your usernames and passwords in one secure place. This software tool can login to your accounts for you, and all you have to do is remember one password to access it!
Here are some other great tips to make sure that your passwords are strong and protected:
- Make sure your passwords are at least eight characters long and include numbers, letters and characters that don’t spell anything
- Never include personal information in your passwords, such as your anniversary or the name of your high school
- Use different passwords for separate accounts, especially for banking and other high-
- Change your passwords frequently
- Consider using a password manager such as McAfee SafeKey, which comes included in McAfee All Access. This will allow you to simplify and secure your password across all of your devices, including PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets. And, it allows you to login to your accounts with just one click!
Finally, remember not to share your passwords with anyone. If you follow these tips you can greatly reduce the chance that your passwords will be compromised, and improve your overall online security.