The internet is starting to look like the Wild West. In January 2021, a breach at Microsoft left more than 280 million customer records unprotected. Data breaches are costing millions of dollars to deal with, and they’re growing more expensive as time passes.
Many people think that data breaches are the result of complicated hacking. In reality, poor password security is to blame for many breaches.
What are the worst ways to store your password? What are ways you can keep passwords safe? How can you create safe passwords that are impossible for hackers to guess?
Answer these questions and you can prevent devastating losses of data through simple steps. Here is your quick guide.
Telling Someone Your Password
Telling someone your password is the definition of bad security. It does not matter if the person you tell is someone you trust or an IT professional. They may write down your password and have it stolen off of them.
Never tell anyone what your password is. Share as few details about your accounts as possible, including what your usernames are.
In a phishing scam, a hacker will impersonate a trusted person and ask you for your password. Remember that administrators and representatives of companies like Facebook will never ask you for your account details. Learn how to avoid phishing scams by checking details in messages like email addresses.
Writing the Password Down on a Sheet of Paper
Many people write their passwords on sticky notes or in journals. Many hackers know this, so they will look at a person’s documents to find their information. Some hackers look through trash and repair shredded documents so they can gain access.
Memorize your password by reading it over several times. You can mouth it to yourself, but do not say it out loud.
If you do write a password down on a piece of paper, do not just scratch it out. Write words over it to make it impossible to read. Rip the paper into several pieces and sprinkle the pieces across a few trash bins.
Sending a Password in an Email
Writing your password into an email is just as bad of an idea as writing it down on paper. Emails are not encrypted, so anyone can read your emails once they gain access to your account. Some emails pass through servers that hackers can access without your knowledge.
If you must store your password on your computer, you have better options than emails. You can use a password manager, which will log your passwords and help you create new ones.
Be aware of the liabilities of a password manager. You need to make sure that other people cannot view your manager. Do not tell anyone that you have one and do not have it open at all times.
You should also take steps to secure your emails. You can enable confidential modes that will lock your emails behind passwords. Consider getting a secure server for your company’s internet and email connections.
Using Instant Messages
Instant messages are encrypted, unlike emails. Yet many people leave instant messaging apps open while they do other things. A hacker may need only a quick glance at your friend’s screen to see what your password is.
You should always assume that anything you send to anyone else is accessible to everyone else. Even if you have encryption, your message can be decrypted.
If you have something sensitive you need to tell someone, talk to them face-to-face. People can hack into your phone or your microphone on your computer and listen to your conversation. Try to go to a place where others will not hear you.
Using Online Documents
Google Docs and note-taking apps are designed to store text, not confidential information. As a result, they do not have strong encryption and they are easily accessible. Someone just needs to steal your laptop in order to access them.
Be very careful with your laptop and smartphone. Keep them on your person at all times. If you must put them down, put them in a locked room or safe so someone cannot access them.
Password security applies to the passwords for your computer and phone. Do not tell someone what they are.
Keep your online documents from others by enabling two-factor encryption. You will need a strong password and a phone that receives text messages. Needing a phone can be enough to deter an intruder from trying to hack your accounts.
Making a Password a Biographical Detail
There are many bad ideas that inspire people to create passwords. Some people make their account name or real name their password.
This is the worst storage option available to you. Your names will be the first things that hackers type in when they try to guess your password.
When you create a password, you should create one that has nothing to do with you. You can pick random words or characters if you would like.
If you’re concerned about memorizing your password, create one using the first words of a sentence you know. Try to add numbers and special characters as an extra layer of protection. “I thrive best hermit style with a beard and a pipe” can become “!ItBHSw1B2aaP.”
Promoting Your Password Security
Password security does not have to be hard. Never share your password with anyone. Do not write your email down, even in an instant message.
The only safe way to keep your password on your computer is with a password manager. You should otherwise try to keep your password in your head.
Never use biographical details for passwords, as they are easy to guess. Throw in random characters or convert a sentence into a password.
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