Creating strong and secure passwords is one of the most important steps you can take on World Password Day to protect your online accounts. With so many security breaches and data leaks happening every day, it’s essential to be proactive about safeguarding your personal information. In this article, we’ll share tips on how to create secure passwords, how to keep safe online, how to use 2FA and MFA, how to rotate passwords, how to use password managers such as 1Password, methods of checking if your accounts have been compromised, and what to do if they have.
Creating Secure Passwords
The first step in creating a secure password is to make sure it’s complex enough to resist hacking attempts. Here are some tips for creating strong passwords:
- Length: Passwords should be at least 12 characters long, and longer is better. The more characters a password has, the harder it is to crack.
- Complexity: Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using common words, phrases, or personal information that can be easily guessed.
- Variation: Use different passwords for different accounts, and avoid using the same password across multiple sites.
- Avoid Dictionary Words: Hackers use tools that can guess words in a dictionary, so don’t use actual words in your passwords.
- Use Passphrases: A passphrase is a series of words that can be easier to remember than a random combination of characters. Make it a long one, and remember to avoid actual phrases that people may use.
Here’s an example of a strong password using the above tips:
Use our password generator here to create complex and secure passwords.
How to Keep Safe Online
In addition to creating strong passwords, there are other steps you can take to keep your accounts and personal information safe online:
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN): A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, making it harder for hackers to intercept your data.
- Avoid Public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi networks can be insecure, so avoid using them to access sensitive information.
- Keep Your Software Up-to-date: Keep your operating system and software updated to avoid vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.
- Enable Automatic Updates: Keep your devices’ software up to date by enabling automatic updates.
- Be Careful with Personal Information: Don’t share sensitive personal information online, and be wary of phishing attempts and unsolicited emails or calls.
2FA and MFA
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) add an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring an additional step to log in. This could be a text message with a verification code, a phone call, or an authentication app. Here are some tips for using 2FA and MFA:
- Enable 2FA or MFA: Enable 2FA or MFA for all of your accounts that offer it.
- Use Authentication Apps: Use authentication apps, like Google Authenticator, instead of text messages or phone calls, as they are more secure.
- Keep Backup Codes: Keep backup codes for your 2FA or MFA in a safe place in case you lose your phone or can’t access your account.
Using a YubiKey
Using a YubiKey is another great way to secure your accounts with an additional layer of authentication. A YubiKey is a small hardware device that plugs into your computer or mobile device’s USB port and provides a unique one-time code that is required to log in to your account. Here are some tips for using a YubiKey:
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Many online services, such as Google, Facebook, and Dropbox, support YubiKey for two-factor authentication.
- Purchase a YubiKey: You can purchase a YubiKey from here
- Set Up Your YubiKey: Once you have a YubiKey, you’ll need to set it up with each online service that supports it.
- Keep Your YubiKey Safe: Keep your YubiKey in a safe place when you’re not using it, and don’t share it with anyone.
Using a YubiKey can provide an additional layer of security to your online accounts, especially if you combine it with other security measures such as strong passwords and two-factor authentication. It’s important to remember that while a YubiKey can help protect your accounts from unauthorized access, it’s not foolproof, and you should always practice good online security habits to keep your personal information safe.
It’s essential to change your passwords to avoid potential breaches regularly. Here are some tips for rotating your passwords:
- Rotate Regularly: Rotate your passwords regularly, such as every three to six months.
- Use Different Passwords: Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts; make sure each password is unique.
- Use Password Managers: Use a password manager to store your passwords securely and generate random passwords.
Password managers, like 1Password, can help you securely create and store complex passwords. Here are some tips for using password managers:
- Use a Strong Master Password: Your master password is the key to your password manager, so make sure it’s strong and unique.
- Generate Random Passwords: Use your password manager to generate random passwords for each account.
- Don’t Share Passwords: Avoid sharing your passwords with anyone, even trusted family members or friends.
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Enable 2FA for your password manager to add an extra layer of security.
Checking for Compromised Accounts
It’s essential to monitor your accounts for any signs of unauthorized access or data breaches. Here are some tips for checking if your accounts have been compromised:
- Use a Password Manager: Some password managers, like 1Password, can scan your saved passwords for any known data breaches.
- Check Your Accounts: Check your accounts regularly for any unauthorized activity or changes.
- Use Have I Been Pwned: Have I Been Pwned is a free online service that checks if your email address has been involved in any data breaches.
- Set Up Alerts: Many online services allow you to set up alerts for any suspicious activity on your account.
What to Do if Your Accounts Have Been Compromised
If you suspect that your accounts have been compromised, take immediate action to secure your accounts and personal information. Here are some tips for what to do if your accounts have been compromised:
- Change Your Passwords: Change the passwords for any compromised accounts immediately.
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Enable 2FA for all of your accounts that offer it.
- Monitor Your Accounts: Monitor your accounts for any further unauthorized activity.
- Contact the Company: If your account is associated with a company or service, contact their support team to report the breach and get help securing your account.
Useful Sites and Services
Here are some useful sites and services mentioned in this article:
- Have I Been Pwned: https://haveibeenpwned.com/
- 1Password: https://1password.com/
- Google Authenticator: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/1066447?hl=en
- Virtual Private Network (VPN): https://www.nordvpn.com/ or https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/
- Strong Password Generator: https://passwordsgenerator.net/
- NI Cyber Security Centre: https://www.nicybersecuritycentre.gov.uk/world-password-day
Other tips for keeping safe online
There are many other things you can do to keep safe online.
Here are some additional tips:
- Use a Firewall: A firewall is a software program that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and blocks unauthorized access. Enable the firewall on your computer or use a third-party firewall.
- Use Anti-Malware Software: Install and keep anti-malware software updated on your devices to protect against viruses, trojans, and other malware.
- Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi: Avoid using public Wi-Fi to access sensitive information. If you must use public Wi-Fi, use a VPN to encrypt your traffic.
- Be Careful What You Click: Be wary of clicking on links or downloading attachments from unsolicited emails or unknown sources.
- Check Website Security: Look for the padlock icon in the address bar of your browser when visiting websites, which indicates that the connection is secure.
- Be Mindful of Social Media: Be mindful of what you post on social media, as it can reveal personal information that could be used for identity theft.
- Use Encryption: Use encryption tools like Signal, WhatsApp, or Telegram to encrypt your communication and protect your messages from eavesdropping.
- Use Different Email Addresses: Use different email addresses for different purposes. For instance, use a personal email for family and friends and a separate email for online shopping or social media.
- Use Common Sense: Finally, always use common sense when it comes to online security. If something seems too good to be true or suspicious, it probably is. Don’t share personal information online or with strangers, and always use caution when browsing the web.
Following these additional tips can help protect your personal information and stay safe online.
Creating secure passwords, using 2FA and MFA, rotating passwords, and using password managers are all essential steps in protecting your online accounts and personal information. It’s also crucial to monitor your accounts for any signs of unauthorized access and take immediate action if you suspect a breach. By following these tips and using the tools and services mentioned in this article, you can help ensure that your online activity remains safe and secure.