With potential threats to cyber security today, it’s a good time to revisit your passwords. Even if you think you’re following the latest password guidelines, you could still be at risk of a data breach. Ask yourself these four questions about your passwords and be prepared to make any necessary changes to secure your information.
1. Are any of my accounts using the same password?
If you answered ‘yes,’ then it’s time for a change! If a hacker gets your password for one account, then they’ll have access to your other accounts. It may seem like a hassle, but it’s nothing compared to fighting identity theft or trying to retrieve stolen money!
2. Are my passwords at least 12 characters long?
12 characters may seem like a lot, but the longer the password the stronger it is. Think up a passphrase of random words that you can easily remember – but avoid popular ones. Also make sure to mix up your characters with lowercase and uppercase letters and symbols. If one of your accounts doesn’t allow for long passwords, mix up the characters even more to improve its security.
3. Are my passwords easily accessible?
This may seem like a silly question, but how and where you keep your passwords can determine whether you get hacked. For example, if you save a Word document to your desktop titled “passwords,” you’re assuming that only you have access to your desktop. You’re not considering a potential hacker gaining remote access to your computer, or someone at your work opening the document when you step away for a minute.
4. Does anyone know my passwords?
Yes, we mean anyone! The best way to keep your information secure is to keep your passwords private. Obviously, your partner or child isn’t going to intentionally misuse one of your passwords, but if they’re not careful it could end up in the wrong hands.
Stay up to date on password guidelines and other security tips by signing up for FTC Consumer Alerts at consumer.ftc.gov.