OK… time to be honest… exactly how careful are you with your passwords?Are you one of those people who uses the same one for a few accounts?
Do you change them often? Do you change them at all?!
If you are that person... the one that uses the same password for everything, and never changes it... then you are certainly not alone.
A report found that more than 80% of people, over the age of 18, used the same password for multiple accounts, and 50% had not changed then in 5 years. So… it is not surprising to learn that almost half of those surveyed people had also experienced a security problem at some point in the previous year, like having an account hacked or data stolen.
Data breaches happen all over the place… from the comfort of your living room in Chilliwack BC, all the way up to some of the biggest (and supposedly secure) companies in the world, including Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, Adobe, Yahoo, Uber, Ebay, Home Depot, Target, Sony, Equifax…. woah, I could go on for a while! (Incidentally, if you are curious and want to be completely freaked out by how unsecure the world is, you can see a LOT more of that list here! )
Put simply, passwords are a little bit like underwear – they really shouldn’t be shared (euww), and REALLY should be changed often! So... here, from our team of wonderful clean-underwear-clad IT professionals, are a list of our top 5 tips to help you protect your accounts online, at the front door...
#1 - USE A DIFFERENT PASSWORD FOR EACH ACCOUNT
Yup... that does mean you'll have to think of more than 1... and even worse, REMEMBER more than that 1! You can do it! Cast your mind back 20 years, when we used to actually remember everyone's phone numbers, before we had them all stored in our phones. OK...OK... if you REALLY really can't, don't panic...we have help for you further down...
#2 - THE LONGER THE PASSWORD, THE BETTER!
When it comes to passwords, size really does matter! Your password should ideally be more than 10 characters... but 16 or more is even better!
#3 - USE TWO FACTOR AUTHENTICATION
Two Factor Authentication (or 2FA) is an extra layer of security where you not only need your username and password, but you also need some get an additional piece of info away from the place you are logging into. For example, you login with the username and password on your computer, but then you also need to get a verification code from your cell phone.
#4 - DON'T SAVE PASSWORDS IN THE BROWSER
Now that you have started using a bazillion different passwords, like your friendly IT guy told you to, having them saved and auto-filled in your browser would make life SO much easier and faster, when zipping around the net. BUT it'd also make it a whole lot easier for the dodgy dude who just stole your laptop too!
I know... we are back to this "I can't remember them all!" thing again. Well, instead of using your flimsy browser's cookie jar, you can use a nifty "password wallet" like LastPass or Keepass. FAR safer!
#5 - MAKE SURE THE URL IS THE ONE YOU WERE LOOKING FOR
This is particularly important if you are online gift shopping and about to part with your credit card details at the check-out! The site you are on may LOOK like the site you intended to visit... but is it a phishing site in disguise?? Check that the URL in the address bar above, actually is the link for that website, and you haven't been inadvertently misdirected to some dodgy copy! (This can happen a lot in emails... never follow the link from an unexpected email... always type the link of the real site instead!)
So... change those passwords, change them often... and use your common sense to stay safe out there!! (After all, you can't pepper spray your screen!)