Are you taking proper care of your credentials? Unless you work in cybersecurity, it’s likely that password practices aren’t the first thing that comes to your mind when you wake up. However, since the number of cyberattacks increase every minute, you may want to improve upon your cybersecurity strategy.
To help you out, we created a list of healthy password practices that can significantly contribute to your online safety.
1. Use a password manager
If you’re like 49% of Americans, your preferred way of managing your passwords is by memorizing them. Unfortunately, human memory tends to be a highly unreliable tool for safeguarding our accounts. An even worse storage option is to list your passwords in a Word document or write them down on a sticky note. One of the best ways to protect your credentials is by using a password manager. This handy tool encrypts your passwords and stores them in a vault to prevent snoops from collecting your data. You can choose between desktop and cloud-based password managers. Our recommendation is to go with a cloud-based one since you’ll be able to retrieve your passwords even if you lose your device. Also, look for a password manager that has a password generator. This way, each of your accounts will be safeguarded by highly secure and unique credentials you won’t need to memorize.
2. Create strong and unique passwords
Those who still don’t want to switch to a password manager and prefer creating passwords by themselves should bear in mind these few password-creating rules:
- Create passwords that are at least twelve characters long
- Combine upper and lower case characters
- Use letters, numbers, symbols, and emojis
- Use dictionary words
- Include personal information like names and important dates
- Use common keyboard patterns
3. Don’t share your credentials
Does your best friend or significant other have access to your accounts? Well, almost half of American adults don’t see an issue with sharing passwords with people they trust. Remember that passwords are meant to stay private and that, consequentially, every shared password is a potential source of a data breach. If you can’t avoid it and absolutely have to give someone access to your account, make sure you’re taking all the precautionary measures to prevent data leakage. If you’re using a password manager, check if it has a safe password sharing option that ensures your credentials stay encrypted and private in transfer. On the other hand, if you don’t have this possibility, avoid leaving any written trace and disclose your passwords over the phone or in person. Those who still choose to send over their credentials should use encrypted messengers like Signal and delete the message immediately after the person receives it.
4. Don’t reuse your passwords
We tend to be pretty lazy when creating passwords, and we often reach out for our few favorite ones because we think we’ll recall them more easily. Research showed that 60% of people reuse their credentials across several accounts, which gives hackers a better chance of effectively breaking into multiple accounts. In fact, 81% of data breaches result from compromised passwords. It’s crucial to keep your private and business credentials separate because otherwise, you can put your company at additional risk of getting hacked. Therefore, create a unique password for each account and discuss the best ways to protect your business accounts with your IT team.
5. Log out from someone else’s device
From a safety perspective, the best practice is to use only your own devices, but if you have to borrow someone’s device to check your emails and social media, make sure you’ve logged out properly. If you stay logged in on someone’s laptop, you’re more likely to get hacked and lose your sensitive data. The best way to avoid this is to browse in incognito mode while using someone else’s device because this way, the browser will automatically delete your information once you exit the session. However, if you suspect you forgot to log out from your accounts, Google has a feature that allows you to sign out from your account remotely. Also, you can find the “Where You’re Logged In” feature in the Security and privacy settings on your social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram and safely sign out to prevent any security mishaps.
6. Check if your passwords have leaked anywhere online
Millions of passwords get hacked every day, and depending on the accounts they’re protecting, consequences can be severe and long-lasting. Many passwords have previously been exposed in data breaches, and users don’t even know their security has been jeopardized. Luckily, you can find many free online tools where you can test if your passwords have been exposed and if they’re a threat to your security. Test your credentials regularly and if you detect that some of your passwords have leaked somewhere, change them immediately.
Analyze your cybersecurity plan and see which components need an update. Since passwords are the most commonly used authentication method, make sure you’re using only highly secure and unique passwords for each of your accounts.