Having a strong password is key to online account security. Given the damage that can result from unauthorized access your account information, it helps to pay attention to these simple rules.
- Don’t share your username or password with anyone, for any reason. Also don’t make it easy for others to see you entering your password or PIN.
- Use strong passwords. Your password should be a combination of numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and symbols and shouldn’t contain information that’s easy to guess, i.e. pet names, children, birthdays or phone numbers. The tradeoff, of course, with such “strong” passwords is that they’re not always easy to remember and you may find yourself breaking the next rule.
- Don’t write down your passwords. Imagine the consequences if your passwords list were to fall into the wrong hands. If it’s absolutely necessary to write down your passwords, keep them in a safe, locked place away from your desk or computer or consider a password manager program. These programs encrypt your login and password information and you only need to memorize one password: the one that lets you access the password manager.
- Use different passwords for different accounts. The danger in using the same username and password for everything is that if one of your accounts is compromised, all of your accounts are at risk. Also, change your password periodically or if you see any suspicious activity in your account.
- Don’t let your guard down. Good password practices and a little common sense can go a long way. The key is to avoid common mistakes, educate yourself on basic Internet security practices, and regularly check your accounts. The time and effort you’ll spend implementing effective passwords is nothing compared to the problems you’ll face if someone gains unauthorized access to your accounts.