Millions of people worldwide visit social media platforms, gaming sites, business connection networks and other social or business web pages. They create online accounts, link finance information to buy products, and share personal information about their daily lives. Whenever a person wants to take part of what the website offers, they must create passwords and share their information.
If you’ve spent any amount of time online, then you’ve heard the disturbing news about several big-name networking and email sites being hacked and user data publicly uploaded to other websites. Three of the most recent security breaches include:
- LinkedIn: Hackers uploaded 6.5 million password hashes to a password-cracking forum asking for help, according to Information Week Security.
- Yahoo: Hackers posted 450,000 passwords and addresses of users.
- eHarmony: Hackers stole 1.5 million user passwords of this online dating site.
While online companies strive to improve security to their web servers and data centers, users should also take steps to make sure their personal information and passwords cannot become compromised. By following these three tips, you can increase your chances that hackers won’t get at your online accounts.
1. Create A Strong Password
You need to create a strong password. Most people want one that they can remember, but they use familiar dates, birthdays, and names of pets/family members that hackers can easily crack because you are sharing this information on social media sites and blogs. Stay away from passwords that use personal information and stick with a basic password formula.
The basic password formula is that you want to use at least one number, one character, one lowercase letter and one uppercase letter. You also want a long password, with more than 6 letters/numbers (some sites require 8, so you might want to keep that in mind). The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. If you’re afraid you won’t remember your password, write it down and keep it safe.
2. Password Programs
While creating a strong password is ideal, you also want to take other steps to keep your online accounts safe. Make sure to change your passwords often and never use the same one for multiple accounts. This prevents the hackers from obtaining just one password but getting information from all accounts associated with it.
You can obtain password protection programs — some are free and some you pay a small fee — that will help you create strong passwords and change those passwords on multiple websites. These password managers help users to keep track of multiple passwords. Personally, I’m a fan of LastPass — it’s free for browsers, and a ridiculously cheap $12/year for your mobile device and some other premium features.
3. Identity Protection Companies
Sometimes, no matter how diligent you are in creating a strong password or changing a password periodically, security breaches still happen on social media platforms. It may be due to the company’s own lackluster security measures. If security breaches do happen, you can take other measures to keep information — such as social security numbers — out of the hands of cyber thieves. Personal data protection companies, such as LifeLock, will help keep your data safe and protect you from identity theft.
Take Steps To Protect Yourself Online
While creating strong passwords and using security companies to keep your identity safe will prevent thieves from stealing your personal information, the most important thing you can do is use commonsense when you are online. Don’t give out too much of your personal information, especially on public forums and blogs. The less personal information you have available online, the less likely hackers can obtain and use your identity.