Did you know that compromised passwords are responsible for 81% of hacking-related breaches? If you're worried about your privacy and security online, the first place you need to start is with your passwords. Even knowing all that we do about online security, most people don't follow best practices when it comes to creating, storing, and using passwords. A lot of people don't even know what best practices are.
According to a recent article, people use an average of 191 platforms and services where passwords are necessary. Because people use so many different accounts, they often reuse the same password or a similar password with slight variations. That also tends to be the most common way for hackers to access your passwords. If one account is breached, they'll be able to use that password and its variations to access any other account you use.
Best Practices to Protect Your Passwords
These best practices can help you guard against having your passwords compromised. Combined with regular security basics, strong password practices can help you protect your information and networks.
- Use Complex Passwords. Most people think of passwords that they will easily remember. The problem is that an easy password for you is also an easy password to guess. Mix up your passwords with symbols, numbers, and random combinations that can't be guessed easily.
- Never Use the Same Password Twice. When you come up with a great password combination, it can be tempting to use it everywhere. But if one account is compromised, all of your accounts with that password are vulnerable. Hackers might access your password information through a breach in the company, which you have no control over. So the best bet is to keep every password unique and pay attention to any notices of breaches.
- Change Your Passwords Regularly. Don't keep the same passwords for years. The longer you keep them the more chances that they may have been compromised in a brach at some point. Change them up every once in a while.
- Don't Use Similar Passwords. It can be tempting to use the same base password but just make a few minor alterations. For instance, you might choose a word or phrase but then add different symbols or number combinations. This can make those passwords easy for hackers to crack.
- Never Use Personal Information for a Password. Don't use birthdates, addresses, family member information, or other personal identifiers. Hackers can easily look up your address, your childhood address, phone numbers, and family member birthdates. These are some of the more common password information, as well.
- Use Long Phrases. When the platform or services lets you use a very long password, make it as long as possible. You can use whole phrases or phrases with numbers and symbols inside them. This makes them more difficult to guess.
- Use Secondary Authentication When Possible. Many platforms offer two-part identification. This might be a code sent to your phone, email, or fingerprint authentication. Use these methods whenever possible.
- Don't Use Common Words. If you can find the word in a dictionary, hackers can crack it. There are programs to help crack common words as passwords and the programs input millions of combinations within minutes. If you're going to use words, make it more than one word and mix it up with symbols or letter combinations. Using capitalization where possible is also a good idea.
What to Do If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
You're much safer if you do follow all of the best practices, but there is always a chance that your identity can be compromised through a third-party breach. What if someone who works in your doctor's office sells your data? Or what happens if a company you do business with has a breach and your information is sold on the dark web.
These things happen more regularly than many people realize. And it can be exceptionally difficult to get your life back once your identity has been stolen. It can impact your credit and even your criminal record. What do you do?
You have legal recourse if your identity has been stolen. At Cardoza Law, we specialize in helping clients fix these complex issues and we make sure that they are compensated for their hardship. Contact us today if you have questions about identity theft