Data safety starts with good passwords

Protect your information by adopting good online password habits.

As more of us communicate, shop, and even do our banking online, we’re leaving our personal and financial information on more websites, and the chances grow of our information being stolen.

One of the easiest ways to deter data hackers is to adopt good password habits when creating and updating accounts. Here are some basic tips for passwords and general cybersecurity.

Two-factor authentication

Many websites, especially those of financial services, offer two-factor authentication. That means you not only need a username and password, you also have to confirm you’re you by providing a passcode that the website texts or emails to you. This extra step is well worth the security! Authorize two-factor authentication when you can.

If you get email on your phone, put a complex password on the lock screen.

Most online services reset your passwords via email. Someone who had access to your phone may be able to get to your services (and lock you out) by resetting the passwords. Don’t use significant or  personal dates, like your birthday, as your phone’s security code. Keep the information on your phone safe too!

What makes a good password?

  • Use a different password for every website.
  • Don’t write down your passwords, or give them to anyone else.
  • Don’t sign up on a website using your account from another website, like Facebook or Google. Instead, create a new password.
  • Change your password regularly—at least every six months.
  • Don’t use easy-to-guess passwords, like your first initial and last name, or your pet’s name. Instead, combine upper and lowercase, numbers, and symbols. Try to avoid using too many of the same numbers in a row. The most-common passwords involve an uppercase letter at the beginning, a few lowercase letters, two numbers, and one or two special characters. Try ordering it differently, like putting the uppercase letter in the middle of the password, and special characters at both the beginning and end.
  • Try using a password generator like Diceware. It also has some great resources on password security! Random.org may also do the trick.

Use a password manager instead of writing them down or saving them on your hard drive.

Password managers allow for more-complicated passwords that you won’t have to reset every time you sign onto a site. You can keep all your passwords in one place that is designed to make it difficult for hackers to steal your information. Even if the password manager is breached, it provides robust encryption to further protect your information.

Some popular password managers are bitwarden, Password Safe, KeePass, Master Password, and LastPass.

Need more info?

Want more about mastering the art of passwords or about the 10 password commandments? Want to check your password’s strength? Read Cnet's Guide to Password Security this article at Cnet.com  to answer these questions, find more useful information, and to keep up with how hackers are trying to steal our data.

There’s a lot of good advice out there! Read up and put into practice what works for you.

Chris Bourcier is a ROC-NH™ Organizational Trainer.

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