Creating a strong password is an essential step to protecting yourself online. Using long and complex passwords is one of the easiest ways to defend yourself from cybercriminals. No one is immune to the risk of account compromise, but by following these simple steps you can reduce your chances of an incident. Creating a strong password is easier than you think. Follow these simple tips to shake up your password protocol.
Use a long passphrase. That's right, use a collection of words instead of a single complex word. For example, you can use a news headline or even the title of the last book you read. Then add in some punctuation and capitalization. At Davidson, we currently require at least a 14 character password.
Don’t make passwords easy to guess. Do not include personal information in your passwords such as your name or pets’ names. This information is often easy to find on social media, making it easier for cybercriminals to hack your accounts.
Avoid using common words in your passwords. Substitute letters with numbers and punctuation marks or symbols. For example, @ can replace the letter “A” and an exclamation point (!) can replace the letters “I” or “L.”
Keep your passwords to yourself. Don’t tell anyone your passwords and watch for attackers trying to trick you into revealing your passwords through email or calls. Every time you share or reuse a password, it chips away at your security by opening up more avenues in which it could be misused or stolen.
Unique account, unique password. Having different passwords for different accounts helps prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to these accounts and protect you in the event of a breach. It’s important to mix things up— find easy-to-remember ways to customize each account's password to make it unique.
Check your email address and password. There are sites that can check your email to see if it has been compromised. We use https://haveibeenpwned.com which lets you know if your email and passwords have been impacted by past data breaches.
Utilize a password manager to remember all your long passwords. The most secure way to store all of your unique passwords is by using a password manager. With just one master password, a computer can generate and retrieve passwords for every account that you have – protecting your online information, including credit card numbers and their three-digit Card Verification Value (CVV) codes, answers to security questions, and more.
Learn more about National Cybersecurity Awareness Month