You’re in the vast unknown of the internet. You’re surrounded by countless other people. Most are going about their business innocently, like you. But some are creeping through the crowd, looking for a vulnerable person to hack. The only things that stand between you and these menacing cybercriminals are your passwords.
But you don’t need to hope that your passwords are strong. You know they’re strong, because you followed Etown ITS’s instructions for secure passwords.
You made sure that every website that you log into has a unique password. This is the most important aspect of password security. If one website is compromised, it doesn’t put all your accounts at risk.
You know that a good password is at least ten characters long, and contains a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Unfortunately, it can be hard to keep track of a bunch of complicated passwords like this.
To really protect your account, you can use a passphrase, which is a combination of four or more random words with a number and/or symbol at the end. The additional length makes them harder to crack, but the use of several words in a phrase is often easier to remember. A passphrase might be something like SittersLimitSoaringGluey81, and generators to give you random words are a mere Google away.
But to get maximum password strength? That’s when you bring in the password manager. This software generates and stores randomized and unique passwords for every site. Using a password manager is like keeping your money in a bank. It’s a secure place to store your data, and it’s harder for people with malicious intent to get into. ITS recommends Password Safe, LastPass, or Dashlane for a simple password managing experience.
When you have the chance, use two-factor authentication! When someone tries to login to your account from an unrecognized device, you’ll receive a code on your phone or through your email. Without that code, whoever is trying to access your account won’t be able to get into it.
With all these tips, you’ll be well-armed against any cybercriminal who tries to break into your stronghold. You’ve woven an impenetrable barrier of unique passwords.
This article was adapted from Educause May 2017.