We all know how important strong passwords are for protecting our private or sensitive information like credit card numbers, health history, or personal life details. How do I choose the best password is a common question asked by those who understand they need good passwords but aren’t quite sure what that encompasses. Here are some quick tips that will help you choose, manage, and maintain strong passwords for all your private information.
Choosing Strong Passwords
There are several tried and true guidelines when it comes to choosing strong passwords. While not all sites will require you to use the security measures we are suggesting, the extra effort is well worth your time. Here are a few tips:
- The longer, the better. The minimum password length recommended by most experts is 10 characters, but we suggest going as long as you can while still being able to remember the password.
- Use both upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. The more you switch it up, the harder your password will be to crack.
- Avoid common substitutions. Do you use a $ instead of an ‘S’ in your passwords? You probably do it because it’s easy to remember, but it’s also easy for hackers to figure out.
- This is a no-brainer, but don’t use common terms or names that could easily be connected to your life. For example, if your dog’s name is Brutus and you post him all over social media, it would be easy for a hacker to figure out that Brutus is part of your password.
Managing Your Passwords
Once you’ve chosen a strong password, you’ve only won half the battle. The next step is learning how to effectively manage them. Best practices are:
- Have a unique password for every online account. Never re-use passwords, especially across multiple servers. If one gets hacked, then they all get hacked. Yes, it’s more difficult to keep track of them, but it’s well worth it in the end.
- Don’t force yourself (or your employees) to change passwords on a regular basis. The only time you need to change your password is when it’s been compromised. If you continually change your password, you’ll be more likely to forget it and you’ll also choose less and less secure passwords just to get the job done. Instead, monitor any usually activity on all your accounts and follow up quickly if you see something out of the ordinary. If there’s been a breach, do the necessary damage control, then change your password.
Using a Password Manager
So how do you keep track of dozens of unique passwords? Writing them down of having a file on your computer are the obvious choices, but these can easily fall into the wrong hands. The best way to manage your passwords is with a password manager. A password manager stores your login information for all the websites you use. It encrypts your password database with one master password, meaning you only need to remember one password to access all your passwords.The password manager we recommend the most is KeePass, which is open-source and free for anyone to use. Of course, it’s crucial to choose an especially strong password for your password manager because if it gets hacked, all of your other passwords will be accessible as well. Choosing and managing strong passwords is the first step toward securing your information and preventing breaches. If you’d like to discuss the next step toward online security, reach out to our experts at Elkhorn Computers. We’d love to answer any questions or help you with your system.