How You Can Lock Down Your Online Security

article by Arya A. author
Passwords are the key to the security of your online personal data. While passwords are not the only security measure to consider for protecting yourself from cybercrime, they are a basic component of establishing security that does not require special knowledge or unusual technology to implement.

How do you create a truly robust and secure password while trying to keep it memorable so that you keep your life organized and manageable? You probably know that using your pet’s name or your birthdate for passwords may not be the best security for keeping hackers at bay, but there are other lesser-known factors to consider to protect yourself from being an easy target for cyber crime and having your private information breached.

Here are some tips on what cyber security experts suggest for safeguarding your personal information.

Use a Password Manager. Generate complex passwords and save them securely via a password manager. It is the first step to simplify your life and safeguard your passwords. Google researchers found that three-times as many cybersecurity experts as non-experts use common password managers for password protection. This is for good reason – password managers allow unique and difficult-to-crack passwords to be configured, organized and stored seamlessly. This makes the human component of password selection irrelevant.

Longer is Better. Mark Burnett, the author of Perfect Passwords, suggests the use of longer passwords of 12-15 characters for increased security, and less vulnerability to hackers. The more characters involved, the more variations exist of possible guesses to crack the password. Not so appealing to low technology hackers that use trial and error methods to hack passcodes.

Go Against the Masses. Avoid common passwords such as those based on current movies, dates, names, or political events. Hackers prey on these commonly used items. Believe it or not, the most commonly used passwords routinely cycle from one year to the next: people still use them!

Mix and Match Your Passwords. Heed the advice of Carnegie Mellon computer science professor, Lorrie Faith Cranor and mix it up! Using special characters can add complexity and enhance the security of passwords, just be sure to place them randomly in the code and not bunched up at the beginning or the end.

Use Unique Passwords for Different Logins. Do not, repeat do not, use the same password for multiple sites.  One website with a security breach can allow hackers to gain access to all of your data with the same password.

Dress in Layers. Layers of security such as additional authentication, encryption, or bio-identification markers increase security against unauthorized access to private information. Password managers can offer additional layers of protection through encryption of data and additional authentication measures.

Do Not Hand Your Key Out to the Neighbors. Do not share your passwords with other people unless it is absolutely necessary. Every person with a key to your personal info may put you at risk for data theft, whether intentional or not.

Why Reinvent the Wheel?  It is not necessary to change a robust password frequently according to Microsoft Research security expert Cormac Herley. He states, “There’s no evidence that password changes improve outcomes”. The best password protection is to use a strong password, to begin with.

Keeping Passwords Secure is Responsible Browsing Behavior

A robust password is a good basic security strategy to help keep your data safe from cyber-attacks.  Using the tips presented here and considering using a password manager are the key points.  Other facets of cyber security are not as easy to control.  But as in all things in life, do the best to control what is in your power to control, and leave the rest to the best password manager such as LastPass or 1Password.