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We use passwords to secure a variety of personal and professional accounts. These accounts protect important data such as ourbanking information, medical portals, or company emails. As we create more profiles for different business and life-critical applications, ensuring that each password is secure, complex, and memorable enough is an essential part of combating cyber criminals.
The complexity requirements of passwords should allow the password to be memorable enough for the account owner to easily recall, but complex enough to avoid anyone being able to randomly guess. What can you do? Try to make your password as mathematically complex as possible, with a combination of symbols and alpha-numeric characters beyond the average 12 character length. This takes a simple password, such as passwrd_2020 to a complex version, p@$$wrd_2o2o_$tR017g.
Complex passwords are good. Using a nonsensical phrase that is not found in literature or the dictionary is another step to strengthening your password. Taking a phrase like, “The dog and walrus chased clouds along the speedway,” can be used as “Th3_D&wCh@$3d_Ca017G_tSp33dw@y” to create a strong password alternative that is not easily guessed.
As much as we want to streamline our account logins so that we can remember them, using the same password for multiple accounts leaves personal information vulnerable. A hacker who has figured out one password can easily copy and paste to see how many other accounts use the same information. Using different passwords for each account, especially those used for banking, email, and medical accounts, limits the amount of additional accounts accessible to a cyber criminal.
Usually we wait until an email notification about unauthorized password attempts or a warning from our IT administrator to trigger resetting account passwords. We don’t have to wait. Set reminders to change passwords often, especially for accounts with the most sensitive information. Once a password is changed, don’t use this password for several months on a different account.
Avoid sharing password information or writing it on a sticky note that can easily be lost or thrown away. Avoid displaying your password information, taking a screenshot that can be easily seen, or accidentally sent to someone else. If you are keeping a Password Hint document, be sure to avoid an obvious naming convention.
Cybercriminals are constantly developing new ways to decode account passwords. This is one of their key tactics when targeting businesses or individuals, looking for ways to gain access to their business-linked accounts and personal information. Maintaining good IT hygiene with an emphasis on strong and complex passwords is key in combating these attacks. In addition to strong password practices, use multi-factor authentication with credentials when available. Multi-factor authentication uses an additional authentication method, such as SMS text or bio-authentication, to ensure that any new device accessing a protected account is authorized. Taking simple steps can mean the difference between securing your personal information and becoming another victim of cyber attack.
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