Protecting your passwords is a vital component of keeping your online accounts safe and secure. Careless users often find themselves the victim of email or Facebook hacks. Armed with the right information, it only takes a few moments to properly secure your email accounts, social networking profiles and sensitive, web based logins. We have put together a handy list of password protection tips to help you in this endeavor.
- Do not use the same password or email account to access multiple sites. For example, do not use the login credentials to access Facebook that you would use to access your online banking account.
- Strong, secure passwords are a necessity. Passwords should be a minimum of eight characters and should contain upper and lower case letters and numbers. Don’t use simple words, especially by themselves. PCtools has an online password generator available if you need it.
- Use secure answers to security questions. With the advent of social networking sites, it is imperative that you take precautions when setting security / password retrieval questions. A common question is “What is your mother’s maiden name?” The answer to this question wouldn’t be too terribly difficult for a hacker to find out, especially if you don’t have social networking privacy settings secure. Lifehacker has a good guide on how to obscure answers to easy security questions.
- Change your passwords on sensitive accounts every 30 to 60 days. (This can be annoying and some experts think it is not necessary if you have a good, strong password in place.)
- Never share your passwords with anyone, especially if you don’t follow our advice and use the same passwords on multiple sites.
- Consider using a password manager to manage all of your online account logins.
- Don’t login to a web based email account from a public computer or unsecured wifi network. There have been several news stories of keyloggers being installed on computers in public places.
- Never click on links in an email and then enter login credentials. A common phishing scheme will send you a bogus security alert about your account being compromised. The fraudulent email will provide a link to the phishing site. A better option is to close the email and type the url of the main site the hackers are trying to imitate in a web browser.
- Install and maintain current versions of anti-virus and firewall software protection. These programs often have built in alerts if you are directed to known phishing sites.
- Actually run full system scans on your system! How many of us install anti-virus software and then hope for the best? Most mainstream programs are pretty good at detecting threats as they occur, but a better option is to boot your computer into safe mode and run a full system scan every 15-30 days.
Bonus: Enable two-factor authentication on sites that offer it. On Facebook, this is called ‘Login Approvals’. This is located in your account security settings. Be sure to see our complete guide that will show you how to Lockdown your Facebook Account for Maximum Privacy and Security.