With all the recent news on security breaches and hacked websites, ensuring your online passwords are secure is a serious matter. A good rule of thumb is to change online passwords once every 90 days. July 1st marked the halfway point of twenty-eleven, which means you just got done changing them for the second time this year, right? If you have not changed your passwords at all in 2011 you are opening yourself up to an attack. Once every 90 days? Depends on your online activity, but at A MINIMUM you should change passwords for your online financial institutions and email accounts once every 90 days.
The Damage May Already Be Done
The first rule of password strategy is: you do not share passwords accross accounts. The second rule of password strategy is: you DO NOT share passwords accross accounts! If one account is compromised you have provided the attacker a road map to the rest of your online accounts. Think of it this way; You wouldn’t have the exact same key for your home, car, mailbox, office, and safe …so don’t use the same password for different websites either! The worst part is that you may not notice until it is too late that your important online accounts have been breached. It is absolutely critical to create unique, strong passwords and keep them well protected. Here are some other basic password rules:
- Use different passwords for different accounts
- Make it lengthy – at least 10 characters
- Add letters, numbers, symbols
- Avoid sequences or repeated numbers – ‘123456’ for example
- Avoid your name or that of any family member
- Keep your passwords secret – NEVER put them in an email, text, or any unsolicited request!
Won’t I Lose My Mind Following All Those Rules?
Not as much as you will when your critical private information is stolen! A great free tool for password security is LastPass.com; it is easier, safer, and more secure than any password tool out there. It works on Windows or Mac, and synchronizes your data to access it from anywhere at any time. It uses military-grade encryption both on your computer, and on their servers, so the only person that can access your passwords is YOU. With this, or any similar tool, you can easily have a different password for your online accounts…stress-free! If you must write them down (PLEASE DON’T) then please use some sort of code, or shorthand to thwart a would-be viewer.