Long, strong and unique – those are three factors that make a good password, according to the Better Business Bureau.
On Monday, which marks National Password Day, the bureau is calling on people to take a minute and change their passwords for all their primary online accounts, such as banking, social media and shopping sites.
“In an era with data breaches, ransomware attacks and sextortion emails, strong passwords are more important than ever,” said Karla Laird, manager of public relations with BBB serving Mainland BC.
“Creating strong passwords and changing them at least twice per year is one simple but effective strategy to protect your personal information and accounts from being compromised.”
According to findings published in the latest MidYear QuickView Data Breach Report, the first six months of 2019 saw more than 3,800 publicly disclosed breaches, exposing 4.1 billion compromised records globally.
Phishing emails and compromised passwords were the top reasons for exposure.
For the strongest password protection, the bureau recommends these tips:
Avoid the obvious: Do not use your children’s names, pet’s names, notable dates or any information that can be traced back to someone or something important to you. Hackers often look through your information to try and find patterns. Use between eight to 12 characters and a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. Choose a new and unique password for each account you have. While it may be difficult to remember multiple passwords, the alternative could mean devastating financial losses and identity theft.
Find a reliable password manager. They can help to keep track of and manage your passwords. Consider investing in a trustworthy password manager that is compatible across devices. Reputable password management apps also recommend strong and unique passwords, provide encryption to securely store any passwords you create, and typically require two-factor authentication.
Use your fingerprint to secure mobile devices. Some devices also facilitate eye scanning. These methods are some of the best ways to protect your information because they use body parts that are unique to you and cannot be duplicated or altered in any way.
Implement two factor authentication. This can involve the use of a PIN and a password and a series of security questions. It can also include the use of a security key. The only way to access the account is to have both pieces of the puzzle to unlock the code. If one piece is wrong, you cannot access the account.
Maintain your virtual health. The same principle behind tossing out your old toothbrush and changing your underwear should apply to changing your passwords. Change them often, keep them private and do not share them with anyone. The longer passwords stay unchanged, the greater the chances of it being compromised and deciphered by a hacker.