We live in a time where most of the information and services we use in our day-to-day lives can be accessed online. Being able to handle day-to-day tasks online is quicker and more economical than having to get in your car, drive somewhere, and stand in line. For businesses, providing online access makes helping customers more efficient while providing many of the same services that are available in person. But with these online conveniences comes the need to have extra precautions when it comes to your data. Your data is out on the world wide web and potentially available for professional hackers to get a hold of it.
Companies with an online presence go to great lengths to protect your data. The time and effort that goes into security research increases each year. At the same time, websites and their infrastructures are getting more robust to provide the needed security in today’s world. Even if you use a site with state-of-the-art technology, as a consumer you can help better protect your data by understanding some of the potential threats and following some simple guidelines when it comes to password protection.
Determine What Needs Protection
Start by determining what sites you really need to protect. The majority of people use banking sites or sites where your credit card information and other personal information is stored. Even your email account has tons of personal information that can be leveraged by a hacker. Sites containing account and personal information need to be protected with one or more of the options we will discuss next. Sites you use that are strictly informational and don't store personal information may not need to have follow guidelines that are as strict.
Pay Attention to Password Length
Use a long password on sites where you may have entered or will enter personably identifiable data. Personably identifiable data is information that needs to be protected at a higher level of security. This can include credit card information, social security numbers, or driver’s license numbers to name a few. Many sites today make you enter a password of minimum length. Most people pick something that is easy to remember and just meets the minimum criteria. A longer password is always better. It does not have to be something hard to remember, but a series of words or phrases that you can remember will be harder to guess the longer it is.
Use a Password Safe
Consider using a password safe. You can keep your passwords safe in one location. The password safe gives you the flexibility to keep passwords that are longer, more complex and different for each site you use. With a password safe, you remember the password to the safe and individual site passwords are stored once you have access to the safe.
Utilize Multifactor Authentication
Leverage multifactor authentication where ever possible. Many sites that store personal information have another layer of security after the password. When you log in from a new device, you may get prompted for additional questions or be required to enter a code from your cell phone or email address. The extra authentication methods make it harder to access your information even if your password is compromised. Multifactor authentication is looking for usage of the website that is not normal for your user. If you log in from a device that you have not accessed before, you will have to go through another series of authentication. Make sure to set the extra authentication up when you create your initial account.
Beware of Cookies
As you can see, by remembering a few guidelines and implementing a few best practices, you can help keep your passwords safe. As a result, your online data is more secure as well. Online access is a great technology but we must do our part to keep our data protected.