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Monday October 26, 2020

Washington News

Washington Hotline

Strong Passwords Protect Your Data

The primary method for protection of your online security is a strong password. Security experts recommend using a different password for each account. However, it is easy to use similar passwords for many accounts. A person may have passwords for social media, streaming, bank accounts and other applications. Many individuals have 40, 60 or even 100 passwords.

A weak password is an invitation for identity theft. There were over 5,000 corporate data breaches last year. Many of these security breaches exposed login information. At present, there are over 500 million stolen passwords on hacker websites.

Keep a Written List

Many individuals continue to rely on a basic written list. The list should be on paper, not on a word processor or spreadsheet. If your list is stored electronically, a hacker could gain access to it.

While the paper list requires time to maintain and must be hidden in a secure location, it is a viable method. You should keep the paper list in a locked desk drawer or cabinet. There should only be one or two individuals who know where the list is kept and have a key to the drawer or cabinet.

With your paper or electronic list, there are several rules to follow for passwords. Do not use "password" or similar words that may easily be discovered. You should not use your name, your pet's name, your street name or any common information for a password. A hacker can often acquire your name, nickname, street address and other similar information.

Passwords are typically 8 to 14 characters in length. A longer password provides better protection. The password can include upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

One password should not be used on multiple accounts. If one account is compromised, the hacker could gain access to other accounts that use the same password. This is particularly the case for financial accounts.

Using the same password with a different prefix or suffix is also a potential security risk. A hacker could determine the basic password and then use multiple login efforts to guess the resulting password.

Use an Online Password Manager

Many individuals will find a password manager to be a safe and convenient alternative to a paper list. Password managers can be located using your favorite search engine. Most password managers use 256–bit encryption and SSL certificates to create a secure connection when you are entering or retrieving data.

With a password manager, you will still need to memorize one master password to open the manager. This must be a strong password with upper and lower case letters, numbers and at least one special character.

Strong passwords are an essential method for protecting your data. Using different passwords for each of your accounts, updating passwords on a regular basis and using an online password manager will greatly increase your chances of protecting your data and reducing the risk of identity theft.


Published August 21, 2020
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