Password protection should be a priority for us all. The prevalence of data breaches should prompt all of us to take a good look at whether we have a strong password on our accounts.
As you’ll see in this article, having a strong password involves way more than just using a grandchild’s middle name and birthday.
How to Pick a Strong, Secure Password
But what makes a good password? Should it be a random assortment of letters and numerals or should it be comprised of words or phrases that we can readily call to mind?
A Google study in the UK found that most people choose relatives’ birthdays, wedding anniversaries and their children’s names as passwords. Also ranking in the top 10 for passwords? “Password.”
Such a lackadaisical approach to password protection can put your identity at real risk.
Even those two or three security questions that many sites require you to answer can be compromised by clever humans.
All a person has to do is take a gander at your Facebook account and they may be able to figure out your favorite vacation spot, your mother’s maiden name and even your best childhood friend. (Tip: Make up bogus answers to your security questions, and remember them.)
5 Easy Ways to Pick A Strong Password
That being said, here are some tips on picking a password that can stand up to hackers.
1. Literally make something up: Short phrases are out, loooooong incoherent strings of letters and numbers are in. The key to a strong password is to not tip off your behavior or lifestyle in any way. Remember what you come up with.
2. Use a password manager: Password managers store all your passwords in one place behind a secure encryption key. The beauty of it is all you have to remember is that single code. The top free ones like DashLane and LastPass have had security issues in the past that have been reportedly fixed. Here are some more.
3. Use a password checker: There are a number of online tools that will test whether your password is up to snuff. Among the best are HowSecureIsMyPassword.net, powered by Dashlane, Passwordmeter.com, and Password Checker by the National Information Solutions Cooperative.
4. Try not to save your password in your browser: Many people do it, but saving your login credentials inside your browser may considerably raised the stakes in the unfortunate event that you lose your computer, tablet or phone for even a short period of time.
5. Don’t use the same password on different accounts: It may save time and brain power, but having the same password for multiple accounts is a quick way to have your entire digital life hijacked.
Password cracking has become such a sophisticated sport that the hackers know all the conventional options you may try to use.
Or, as Sophos tech site Naked Security puts it: “They know that some words are used more often than others and they know about the cute tricks and bad habits we use to obfuscate them.
The site adds: “They know that we use 0s instead of Os and 4s instead of As, and they know that we tend to put our upper case letters, special characters and numbers at the beginning and end of our passwords.”
The Clark-Approved Way to Protect Your Info: Two-Factor ID
Nothing is foolproof in this day and age, but by using two-factor identification you employ one of the most practical methods of protecting your personal data.
Two-factor authentication requires the user to enter more information as an additional step to verify their identity. It is often called two-step authentication or verification.
In many cases, the extra step consists of a unique key sent to your phone or email. In all cases, whether it’s used on your bank website or some other account, it will make you feel better knowing that an added layer of security is in place to safeguard your information.
To see how secure your bank website is, check out Two Factor Auth, which keeps a running list of financial institutions that use two-factor authentication.