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

Password Protection: What You Can Do To Prevent Identity Theft

Secure passwords are crucial for preventing identity theft.

Secure passwords are crucial for preventing identity theft.

Passwords are extremely important in preventing identity theft, because they’re often your first line of defense against hackers and cyber-criminals. It’s therefore crucial to design passwords that will stand up to attacks. We use passwords to access everything from our bank accounts to our shopping carts, so one cracked code could result in full-on id theft.

Here are some tips for the best password security:

  • Change passwords frequently: Don’t use the same passwords year after year. Instead, change them regularly so there’s less chance of getting hacked. Some decoding software can take months to unlock a password. If you change your passwords every few months, then you’ll have a better chance of staying ahead of the bad guys.
  • Don’t reuse passwords: This is the most important piece of password advice, and one of the most frequently ignored. Make sure each password you use is unique. Using the same password for multiple accounts makes your identity extremely vulnerable, since a hacker would only have to discover one code in order to have access to your entire online existence. It may seem burdensome or silly, but maintaining a separate password for each account is actually the smartest defensive move you can make when it comes to login information.
  • Make it as long as possible: The longer your password is, the more challenging it is for both humans and software programs to unlock. Microsoft, for example, suggests that individuals should create passwords that are at least eight characters long. You want to make it as difficult as possible for criminals to discover your password and establishing one with length is an easy way to do just that.
  • Make it random: Yes, randomized passwords are harder to remember, but they’re also harder to discover. This is why security experts recommend staying away from actual phrases and words that will be easy to guess. Using names or words that have personal meaning to you is risky, because hackers can discover this information and use it to break into your accounts. Even if you use a word that has no direct connection to you, hacking software can quickly crack passwords containing full words or phrases simply through trial and error.
  • Misspell it: If you have to use a complete phrase or word as your password, misspelling it with numbers and symbols can be a great way to make it harder to crack. For example, “I love soccer” could translate as “1LuvSoCC3r!1.” This combination is much more randomized and will take a hacker longer to guess.
  • Use a sentence: Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science suggests making up a sentence to help you remember your password. For example, “My favorite animal is the moose” could translate to “mF4!tM.”
  • Use different characters: Using a mixture of characters makes your password considerably more secure. Try utilizing both upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols.

If you have a difficult time keeping up with a number of complicated passwords, you might consider downloading a password manager that can keep your information safe yet accessible. This will deliver invaluable peace of mind if it allows you to maintain secure passwords and protect your identity.

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