Whether you check your financial accounts, shop, or watch cat videos online, you probably spend a lot of time logging in and out of different accounts. In fact, a recent survey found Americans spend about 10 hours a day emailing, texting, using social media and engaging in other forms of digital communication. So make sure your screen time is safe and secure by following these tips when you're connected to the internet.
Use strong passwords or pass phrases
When creating a password, a good recommendation is the longer the password, the better. A longer password could mean you may not need a full mix of letters, numbers and symbols. If you use:
- 8-11 characters: Mix upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols
- 12-15 characters: Mix upper and lowercase letters with either numbers or symbols
- 16+ characters: Mix upper and lowercase letters
You can go the extra mile and create a passphrase, where allowed. String together four random words to get to a longer password and hopefully, one that’ll be harder for thieves to guess. (e.g. apple, radio, cart, show becomes Appleradiocartshow).
The above recommendations are good to follow, but remember some sites may still require the mix of letters, numbers and symbols even if you have a long password.
Create new credentials for every account
With so many online accounts, it’s tempting to create one good password and use it over and over. Not a good idea. Instead create different usernames, passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) for all your online accounts. Also, take the extra step and change your passwords frequently.
Do the two-step. If two-factor authentication is available for your account, use it. This is a two-step authentication process requiring a memorized password and a security code. The code is typically sent by text message or a cell phone call before you can access the account.
This way even if an attacker gets your passwords, they can’t login as you unless they also steal your device that serves as your second factor.
Separate accounts. Consider creating separate accounts for adults and children. If your children are younger, a single account may allow you to monitor emails and screen what your child downloads. However, if you have older children with their own devices, you may not want to share music and photo accounts. Nor will you want to receive a ping for every social media message or notification.
Manage passwords easily
From smart lights to smart refrigerators, almost any device can be connected to the internet. With so many devices where you can log in and out, your password list might be a mile long. If that’s the case, consider a password manager app to store passwords securely in a single location. This is also a good way to keep you from forgetting your passwords or reusing the same one again.
Make sure your online experience at home is just as safe and secure as it would be in public. Learn more about how to stay safe online with the National Cyber Security Alliance at StaySafeOnline.org.
The advice provided is for informational purposes only.