How to create strong passwords

Breaking news about hacking attacks and network breaches just keep rolling in – Equifax, Yahoo!, MyFitnessPal, the list goes on. We’ve become accustomed to seeing these breaches in the news regarding large companies, but what about your own security? Obviously, this is an important issue that everyone needs to address, and a great place to start is by taking a good look at your own password behaviors.

A recent research project called The Psychology of Passwords paints a scary picture showing that the main cause of network breaches and hacked accounts is, to put it bluntly, due to consumer disinterest in creating and maintaining safe password habits.

Here’s a few stats from the study that show why hackers are happy these days:

  • 59% mostly or always use the same password
  • 53% have not changed passwords in the last year
  • 64% choose easy passwords so they are easy to remember
  • 55% do NOT change their passwords, even after finding out they were hacked

Fear of forgetting passwords seems to be overpowering fear of hackers, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to keep using the same simple password you’ve been using since your college days. Consider the damage just one breach of your bank account, credit card accounts or medical records can do and you’ll see the importance of coming up with a better system.

There are secure services that provide easy to use apps that help you generate and keep track of passwords, and we’ll share a few of those below. Another idea is to come up with a system of generating passwords that is easy for you to remember, yet hard for others to guess.

Using the names of your children or pets, birthdays or anniversaries, or even the old standards of abc123 are bad password behaviors we all need to stop right now. Here are a few ideas for creating stronger, more secure passwords online.

  • Do not use the same passwords for all your accounts
  • Keep your home and work password systems separate
  • Change passwords regularly, at least once or twice a year
  • Use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols
  • Avoid personal information
  • Don’t display passwords where others can see them (Raise your hand if you’ve ever kept a password on a Post-In note somewhere near your computer.)
  • Opt-in for 2-step verification when changing passwords if available. This means that any change prompts a notification or special code to be sent to your personal phone.
  • Use a secure tool to manage passwords, such as these:

LastPass is an app with free and paid options that securely stores usernames and passwords, which you can access using TouchID or with one master password. It can autofill your information and help generate strong passwords. You have quick access to search for passwords stored in your vault and the ability to share information with friends and family you give emergency access to.

1Password is another app with a 30-day free trial and inexpensive plan options that stores your passwords and logs you in either automatically or at your discretion online.

In this age where business and life are being conducted more and more online, it’s necessary to be as vigilant in your activities online as you would be in the real world. Good password behavior and diligence using your accounts is the best thing you can do to protect yourself. If you suspect an account might have been hacked, please read this article for a checklist of what to do. And for any questions about your Softcom account security or help with passwords give us a call at (800) 982-7675 or 1 (888) 4-SOFTCOM, we’re here to help.

Kristy CooperHow to create strong passwords

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