It’s a good idea to change or rotate your passwords every few months to lessen the chance of a hacker stealing them. And what better time to do it, then now, at the beginning of a new season. Here are some tips for creating strong passwords and safeguarding them.
Outsmart hackers with long, strong passwords. Passwords should be at least eight characters and contain a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. To come up with a strong password, you may want to take a well-known phrase like “Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill,” and use the first letter of each word. So in this example, your password would be dmamooamh. Then, to make it stronger, you could use d2Mamooamh!
Try a password-strength checker. If you want to see how strong your password is you may want to try a free password-strength checker. But don’t rely on this type of software too much because it doesn’t test whether a password has easily identifiable information such as your birthday or mother’s maiden name.
Have a handful of passwords. Security experts recommend having four or five passwords. It’s important to have a separate password for your email account because most sites have a “forgot my password’’ tab that can be figured out by many hackers. It’s also a good idea to have separate passwords for social media sites, financial sites – like your bank accounts – and shopping sites. Some people also have a password for sites they don’t trust or don’t use often.
But how can you remember all of those passwords? If you have trouble remembering four or five passwords, you could use a password manager. This software, which is often free, lets you create a master password, which leads you to your other passwords. Or you could go the low-tech way, and write down all of your passwords and keep them in a safe place until you have them memorized. Then throw them away.
Keep anti-virus and anti-spyware software up-to-date. Despite your best efforts, a thief could still steal your password with malware that tracks your keystrokes. The best way to avoid this is to keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software updated to block malware from infecting your computer. It’s also wise to avoid downloading files from unknown websites and email senders.