Increasing cyber threats and fraud means we all need to take a proactive approach to online security.
Outdated passwords are vulnerable to hacking attempts, which can result in unauthorized access to personal information, financial accounts, and other sensitive data.
Here are the Top Five Tips for Keeping your Online Passwords Secure
Password Tip #1 – Use Strong and Unique Passwords:
Create complex passwords by combining a variety of characters, including uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Avoid common passwords or easily guessable information, such as birthdates or family names.
Each online account should have a unique password to prevent widespread compromise if one account is breached.
Pro: By using a long enough password with multiple characters it may become impossible for your account to become hacked.
Con:It's very hard to remember long passwords of random characters. It's also hard to correctl y type them when needed.
Pro Tip: Think of a sentence or statement that can be your password and replace one letter with a special character.
Password Tip #2 – Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):
Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to verify their identity through a secondary method, such as a fingerprint, text message, or authentication app.
Pro: Implementing 2FA significantly enhances the security of online accounts, even if the password is compromised.
Con: The most popular two-factor authentication is for the website to text you a passcode for you to enter before you can gain access to your account. This means you will always need your phone with you and turned on in order to access your account.
Estate Planning Pro Tip: Having Two-Factor Authentication also makes it much harder for your loved one or Power of Attorney to access your account if you need them to help you. Make sure that your POA can access your phone in the event of an emergency.
Password Tip #3 – Regularly Update Passwords:
Set reminders to update passwords every three to six months.
Pro: Regularly changing passwords helps to stay ahead of potential security breaches and minimizes the chances of unauthorized access to your accounts.
Con: It is hard to constantly keep changing passwords on all of your accounts. It’s harder to remember your passwords when you have to update them all of the time. Some online accounts force you to update your password every so often.
Password Tip #4 – Beware of Phishing Attempts:
Be cautious of suspicious emails, messages, or calls asking for personal information or account credentials. Phishing attacks often trick individuals into revealing their passwords unknowingly.
Estate Planning Pro Tip: It is becoming increasingly difficult to determine what is an authentic request for information and what is a fraudulent request for information. Verify the authenticity of the source before sharing any sensitive information.
Password Tip #5 – Use a Password Manager
Without having a system in place – password management can become overwhelming. You have the option of organizing your passwords with a paper method or online with an online password manager.
Paper Password Management:
Many people use a paper notebook to keep track of their passwords. An easy way to do this is to put a letter at the top of each page in a notebook – A through Z. Then you keep track of accounts that start with that letter on their respective page. When you have to update a password its easy to locate that password, cross out the old one and update with the new on that page.
Offline Security: Written paper records are not vulnerable to online hacks or data breaches.
Simplicity: Writing down passwords is easy and requires no technical expertise.
Accessibility: Paper records are readily available without the need for an internet connection.
Vulnerability: Paper records can be lost, stolen, or damaged, potentially compromising account security.
Manual Updates: Updating passwords requires crossing out or rewriting entries, which can become cumbersome.
Online Password Management:
Consider utilizing an Online Password Manager Application to generate and store complex passwords securely. These applications provide encrypted databases that can be accessed with a single master password, making it easier to manage and retrieve passwords across multiple accounts.
Enhanced Security: Password managers employ strong encryption algorithms to safeguard stored credentials.
Convenient Access: Passwords can be accessed securely from any device with an internet connection.
Auto-fill Functionality: Password managers can automatically fill in login information, saving time and reducing the risk of typos.
Dependency on the Internet: Online password managers require an Internet connection to access stored passwords.
Potential Breaches: While password managers are designed to be secure, no system is entirely foolproof.
Maintaining and updating passwords for online accounts is a critical aspect of personal cybersecurity. Following a few key practices as discussed above can greatly enhance overall security. The use of some form of password management – whether paper or online -- will make managing passwords easier and improve overall security.
This article is a service of Attorney Chad A. Ritchie and the Ritchie Law Office, Ltd.
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