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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection The Resource Center | article

Keeping Passwords Safe Is Key To Preventing Identity Theft

Protect your identity by keeping your passwords.

Protect your identity by keeping your passwords.

We all know that passwords help keep our confidential information safe from online hackers and identity thieves. As criminals become more and more sophisticated keeping up with technology, it’s critical to have good password habits to thwart whatever threats may come. While no one can prevent identity theft, there are steps you can take to protect yourself, starting with these tips for password protection:

  • Change your passwords frequently: Change your passwords every three to six months so cyber-criminals won’t have time to hack into your accounts.
  • Create passwords with a variety of characters: Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols when creating your passwords. The more complicated your passwords are, the longer hacking software will take to guess them.
  • Don’t reuse your passwords: Shockingly, recently reported that about 20 percent of people use the same password for their bank account and an additional site. However, this is never a safe option. Keep in mind that your bank might have sophisticated security technology in place, but might not. A cyber-criminal only has to discover your password on a less secure site before plugging it into your more important accounts.
  • Don’t share your passwords: According to a study conducted by U.S. credit bureau Experian, almost half of respondents younger than 30 reported feeling comfortable with sharing their passwords with others. It’s simply easier to keep your identity safe if you refuse to share your passwords.
  • Don’t type passwords into public computers: Hackers can install software on public computers that record your keystrokes, so don’t use a library computer to log into your bank account. Also stay away from your personal accounts if you’re using public WiFi.
  • Don’t use actual words: Try not to incorporate whole words into your passwords, because those are more easily guessed. Instead, consider scrambling words or using an acronym.
  • Don’t use letters or numbers in sequence: Many people use passwords that fall into sequence on the keyboard, like “1234” or “QWERTY.” These, however, are too easily guessed and should definitely be avoided.
  • Don’t write down your passwords: Writing down your passwords or carrying them with you is never a good idea. If you must have a memory aid, try writing down a clue for yourself that will trigger your memory without alerting anyone else to your password. An even better option would be to download a password manager that will store your various passwords in encrypted files.
  • Make your passwords long: The longer your password is, the more difficult it will be to guess. Most security experts say passwords should be at least eight characters long.

Nobody wants to become a target of identity theft. By following these steps, you can take a step in the right direction to protecting your information. Take an inventory of your passwords, see how safe they are and if they don’t follow the recommendations here, it’s a good idea for you to update them.