Protecting your Digital Life
Thursday 4th May 2017 marks World Password Day; a day for recognising of the importance of online security.
With the majority of us using online accounts in our day-to-day lives, protecting your digital life has never been so imperative. Whether it be an account for emails, social networking, online banking or shopping, the password is the first line of defense in protecting your identity and sensitive personal information.
It is likely that most of us will know of someone who has experienced an account being hacked; it is a distressing situation for the person concerned, knowing that a stranger has invaded their privacy. The issue however, is that many of us have numerous accounts, all requiring passwords consisting of various characters, numbers, capitals and symbols – it can be almost impossible to remember them all. Many people tend to use the same password for multiple accounts, or create a password based on something familiar like an anniversary or name of a pet or family member. Consequently, accounts are left with poor security and vulnerable to infiltration by cyber criminals and identity theft.
World Password Day aims to spread awareness of the importance of this issue, with thousands of people and global organisations pledging to improve their password habits. Here are four steps you can take to protect your digital life:
1. Create strong passwords
Ideally, a strong password should be long (at least eight characters) and use a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols. Avoid using personal information that can be easily guessed or obtained through social media. Try using a passphrase instead of a password and modify with other characters to increase password strength, for example “St0rm1sBr3wing”.
2. Use a different password for each account
If someone has access to your password and you use that password for several different accounts, then that person will have access to everything. Once a password has been compromised, cyber criminals will try using the same password to access other sites, which often works. The answer is to use a different password for each account.
3. Get a password manager
A password manager will allow you to safely store all your passwords and generate strong passwords for you. This will allow you to use hard-to-remember passwords for every account; you only have to remember the one master password to get in. In the event that your master password becomes compromised, quality password managers will block access from any unregistered devices, until the user completes a second or third login step such as entering a secret code that is texted or emailed to you.
4. Turn on multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication is an additional layer of security to your passwords to reduce the risk of someone accessing your account. This could be using a fingerprint reader on your phone, or using a verification code texted to your phone in addition to entering your username and password. Multi-factor authentication can be activated in the settings for most major websites.
Don’t wait until it’s too late; act now to protect yourself and your organisation.