My wife recently informed me that our children’s test grades can be retrieved online, along with homework, notes, and basically any other critical component of their schoolwork. I guess I was not surprised by that – virtually, everything is online these days, but of course, the cyber security side of my brain immediately pondered how protected this information was against hacking. This thought must have also crossed the minds of the school’s webmaster because the rules around creating a password for this website is about three times as strict as those that govern our online banking account.
In all seriousness, password safety is a critical component of protecting your online identity. Yes, it’s true that even with a secure password, a cyber thief can compromise your accounts, but the front door is really your password; and, if that is weak then you’ve just made the job that much easier for a hacker to have direct access to your banking account, credit card, 401K, and even your child’s homework grades.
So, take a minute to consider some really basic rules around password safety. A little bit of forethought can go a long towards avoiding a headache. And since we’re about ready to head into the holiday season, we don’t need any more headaches!
- Avoid the obvious. You probably won't forget your own birthday, but resist the urge to make it your password.
- Avoid dictionary words. Software that guesses passwords based on standard language, including words spelled backwards, common misspellings, and substitutions (like using a 3 instead of the letter e) are all too easy to find. Mix up your words, or use randomly generated strings of letters and numbers.
- Longer is better. The longer the password the harder it is to crack. Use a password with at least 8-14 characters.
- Use the entire keyboard. Combine numbers, letters (upper and lower case) and symbols to create a unique, secure password.
- Keep an eye on your accounts. You keep an eye on your credit card statements, right? The same theory applies for your other online accounts. Check them from time to time for suspicious activity. If you see anything out of the ordinary change your password and alert your account provider.
Since the worst part of creating a secure password is remembering it, services like the Constant Guard ™ Protection Suite, which Xfinity customers can access at no cost, allow you to securely store your online account passwords for fast and secure login. With that last hurdle cleared there is no excuse not to update your unsecure passwords today. Believe me, you don’t want to regret not doing so!