Whether you check your financial accounts, shop or watch cat videos online, you’re spending a lot of time logging in and out of different accounts. That’s on top of all the time you spend emailing, texting, using social media and engaging in other forms of digital communication. So, it’s important to ensure the way you access your online accounts and devices is safe and secure.
Use strong passwords
A good password is your first line of defense for keeping intruders out of your accounts. The best passwords are long and strong. As the passwords get longer, so does the mix of numbers, symbols and letters:
- 8-11 characters: Mix upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
- 12-15 characters: Mix upper and lowercase letters with numbers or symbols.
- 16+ characters: Mix upper and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and punctuation.
Even better, create a passphrase, where allowed. String together four random words to get to a longer password. The goal is to make your password harder for thieves to guess. Words like apple, radio, cart, show become Appleradi0cart_show.
Create new credentials for every account
With so many online accounts, it’s tempting to create one good password and reuse it. It’s better to create different usernames, passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) for all your online accounts. For added security, change your passwords every 90 days.
Do the two-step. If two-factor authentication is available for your account, use it. This process requires two factors such as a memorized password and a security code, or notification. The code is typically sent by text message or by a cellphone call before you can access the account. You will then have to add the code or accept the notification on the device.
This way even if a thief steals your password, logging in as you isn’t possible without your device, which 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 social media accounts, for instance. If you feel comfortable, allow your older children to have separate accounts. Then share all these tips, so their accounts can also be secure.
Manage passwords easily
From smart lights to smart refrigerators, almost any device can be connected to the internet. With so many options for logging in and out, that password list saved in your head or in a document could become unmanageable. If that’s the case, consider a password manager app to store passwords securely. This way you only need to remember (or recover) one password. It’s also a good way to keep you from reusing the same password.
The advice provided is for informational purposes only.