Are Your Passwords Leaving You Vulnerable to Being Hacked?

bigstock-Log-in-internet-connection-wit-14255558 300_198.pngImagine these scenarios. Worse case…you sit down to do some work on your computer and all of your files are gone…vanished into the ether land.  Or, imagine the annoying and somewhat scary situation of going onto Facebook or Twitter and noticing that someone has been posting as you and what they have written makes no sense or is downright mean.

You’ve been hacked!!! Doesn’t just the thought of it, strike dread in your gut? If you are like this writer, isn’t your first thought… if they have hacked this, what other parts of my life have they hacked?

Now, is the time to protect yourself.

The first step is to ensure that you have implemented strong password strategies, which can make it harder for a hacker to wreak havoc with your banking, email accounts, Facebook, Twitter and online shopping accounts.

The foundation of your strong password strategies is knowing how to create a good one, in the first place.

Let’s begin by showing you examples of what not to do:

Do not use any information that is related to you, that could be easy to find online or retrieved by an unscrupulous hacker posing as you, such as:

  • Your name or a family member’s name,
  • Your date of birth or the birthday of anyone in your immediate family
  • Your anniversary
  • Your house number, zip code or phone number
  • The last four digits of your social security number or credit card number

Do not use any combination that is too simple (The passwords listed here all made it onto the list of top 25 worst passwords for 2012 as compiled by SplashData.)

  • 123456, 123123, 123456789 (or any other similar combination.)
  • password or password1
  • iloveyou
  • abc123
  • monkey
  • qwerty
  • welcome
  • shadow
  • mustang
  • jesus
  • ashley
  • michael
  • shadow
  • letmein

So, what password strategies will create a solid foundation for your online security?

  • Have a unique password for each of your accounts. However, do not make them unique but similar, for instance do not use appletree1, appletree2. A hacker can easily figure out one password and use it like a stepping stone to break into all of your other accounts.
  • Do not keep your logins and passwords in a Word Document or Excel file on your computer. If your computer is stolen, think of the heyday someone will have with all of your user names and passwords handed to them on a silver platter.
  • On Outlook, set up a reminder to yourself to change your passwords on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
  • When creating a password make it at least 8 characters long. The more characters you have the less likely it will be guessed.
  • When creating a new password, use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Add in a capital letter or two in the middle of your password.
  • Instead of trying to remember some odd combination of letters, you could create a password- phrase. For example, take the sentence, “my favorite book is Where the Red Fern Grows”. Make a password out of that by taking the first letter of each word and then adding symbols and numbers, so that it ends up looking like #mfbiWtRFG@3.
  • Follow the weak/strong indicator that usually shows up when you are creating a password online. They are trying to help you. The stronger your password, the tougher you make it on the potential hacker.

Your digital life is in your hands. Start building a solid foundation to your online security fortress by taking heed of these strong password strategies.