In light of recent events, it might be time to change your passwords again.
Last month, news broke out that LinkedIn user data stolen from 2012 were being sold on the dark web. A few weeks later, both Twitter and Myspace reported similar breaches as well. As more hacks are reported every few weeks, it’s perfectly natural to be on edge especially when we share our personal details with these networks.
There’s a possibility that all these recent hacks are related to one another, especially when people reuse the same password across a wide variety of websites. We’re all guilty of this and I admit that I’ve reused the same password out of convenience. Unfortunately, this isn’t secure and if one account is broken into, then that has the potential to compromise other accounts.
While we all like to think that we won’t be the victims of an attack, employing a strong and complex password should be a priority, especially if you use reuse them to log into different sites.
Use a long and complex password
Complexity is important because it will take longer for hackers to crack it. On a Bloomberg post, an 8-character password with numbers and symbols will take roughly 463 years to break, while a 6 character password takes only 18 days.
So what does a complex password look like? It essentially is a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, a few numbers and symbols to make it much harder to decipher. For example, if you use “confound” to log into different sites, you can amend different symbols and numbers to create something like “ConF0und!”
Create a unique password for each network
Ideally, everyone should be using unique passwords everywhere. In the event that your login credentials are leaked, hackers can use the same data to log into your different accounts. This is where having a unique password comes in and adds an extra layer of security.
Creating unique passwords, however, is easier said than done. After all, creating random passwords for each network or site is both time-consuming and challenging to maintain.
To make this easier, consider using DigitalSafe or LastPass to manage passwords. In addition to storing them securely, password management tools allow users to create strong login credentials with varying lengths and complexity.
Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible
If you’re unfamiliar with two-factor authentication, it is a system where an extra layer of security is added to prevent unauthorised access into an account. This can come in the form of a text message or through a verification tool like Google Authenticator. Implementing two-factor severely restricts access to your account and we recommend using it if it is available.
Check for SSL certificates
SSL encrypted sites can be recognized by “HTTPS://” before the URL of a site. Whenever a site has SSL encryption employed, any communication transmitted is secure. With that in mind, always check to see if a website utilizes SSL encryption on key pages such as the checkout, login, signup and password reset pages. Learn more about SSL encryption here.
When it comes to your online security, maintaining and creating a secure password is important. While companies hash passwords, it is still a good idea to ensure to employ a strong password and multiple verification methods to prevent unauthorised access into your accounts. To find out whether or not your account has been compromised, you can use a tool like Have I Been Pwned to find out if your credentials have been compromised in a breach.