One of the best methods to minimize your susceptibility to cybercrime is to create and utilize strong passwords. The creation of a password is something we often don’t spend a lot of time thinking about, but maybe we should. It is one of the most essential steps in protecting yourself and your data online. Often we aim for the easiest password for us to remember, using birth dates, anniversary dates, pet names, even our own names in order to maintain something we’re used to typing regularly. Then, once we’ve created a password we like, we use it for everything that has a login. What could it hurt?
What we may not realize is that this is the same strategy used by cybercriminals attempting to gain access to our data. And we just made it even easier.
Secure Data has combined some of the best password-setting and multi-factor authentication (MFA) advice in honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. These methods coincide with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS) recommendations and the US Department of Homeland Security’s “Be Cyber Smart” campaign. Though we cannot be completely immune to cyber risk through strong passwords alone, we can be cyber smart and password smart every day by shaking up our completely hackable password creations.
Create Unique Passwords – “Password” is Not a Good Password
Creating a password that we can easily remember is the obvious goal, but we often focus on the easiest combination of words and numbers. If it is easy for us to remember and not very unique, it may become easier for a hacker to crack. Be creative when making a password and always avoid using the word “password” when you do.
If you are making a password, try using symbols, numbers, or punctuation marks to replace letters. Also, you can replace numbers with the spelled out version. For example, if I include the numbers “2112” in my password, I can replace one of the numbers with a punctuation mark and another with the spelling of the number, like “2!1Two.” The more unique the password, the more difficult it is for someone else to guess.
Think like a Hacker – Not like a Pet Owner
We all love our furry or feathered ones, but did you know that one of the most commonly used words in a password is a pet’s name? This is easily obtainable information commonly shared on social media. If you still want to use a pet’s name in your password, shake up the spelling using phonetic replacements for letters. “Fluffy@2!1Two” becomes “Fluphy@2!1Two,” for example.
You can even create the same password with obvious misspellings like “Fluppy@2!1Two” — as long as the misspellings are only obvious to you. While you are still using a pet’s name, which is generally not recommended, this method ensures that it is still a unique password in the end.
Use Common Sense – Not Common Words
While the creation of a unique password is a good first step, here are some additional common sense methods when it comes to passwords:
- For each unique account, create a unique password. Think of it this way: if you have a basic password and then use it for all accounts because it’s easy for you to remember, a cybercriminal could access all of your accounts or data if all they needed was that single, repeatable password. If it becomes too complicated to remember each unique password, consider using a secure password manager to keep track.
- Keep your passwords to yourself. Every time you share a password online, it increases the chances of it being misused or stolen.
- Don’t make passwords easy to guess, like “bankpassword” or “creditpassword,” for example. Be creative and make it complex.
- Longer passwords are the best. While most accounts now require the creation of passwords longer than eight characters, it is good practice to do this all the time. The longer and more unique the password, the more secure your account login becomes.
Multi-Factor Authentication – Multiplying Your Security
The process of multi-factor authentication (MFA) can add an additional layer of protection when logging into accounts. MFA is a security process that requires more than just your password to log into accounts and often utilizes another method of confirming that you are an authorized user. This normally entails confirming your identity with a code sent to your cell phone by text, by email, or even in a phone call. While many institutions may already incorporate it, MFA should be used whenever possible.
Protect Your Data – There’s an Easier Way
Secure Data’s hardware encrypted USB drives are an easy and affordable alternative for protecting your data and your passwords. Designed with the user in mind, the SecureUSB drives are lightweight and convenient for travel with a keyring slot at the bottom. Compatible with all operating systems and automatically-encrypting, these USB drives are the easiest way to protect your data and passwords from cybercriminals.
The SecureUSB KP has the keypad directly on the USB, making it easy to securely access your data with a unique password. With a wear-resistant design, the keypad won’t wear down over time preventing unauthorized users from seeing which numbers were pressed.
The SecureUSB BT can be easily unlocked and managed from your smartphone as a Bluetooth-enabled device. Using your smartphone as the unlocking mechanism prevents unauthorized users from having the ability to access the drive. It also features two-factor authentication and biometric authentication through facial recognition and fingerprints for added layers of security.
Both options come with built-in antivirus, brute force anti-hacking technology, and complex password requirements. With multiple available size capacities, these USB drives automatically back up your stored data and make it easy for you to be in complete control of the access.