Passwords are a problem, not just for website users but also for website owners. You have to trust that your users will create strong passwords and not share them with others, and you have to ensure that the security you create is safe too. The best thing to do is teach everyone to create strong passwords from the start.
1. Write Them Down – First, whenever you create a password you should write it down and store it someplace secure. Keeping a password notebook that you put in your locked file cabinet is a good way to go. You’re going to keep it like a diary so that any person who accesses it can flip to the back page and find your most recent changes. Don’t tell the world that you have this notebook; put it in your will for your family or business partner.
2. Create a Password Standard – You can create a password standard for yourself that makes it hard for people to guess but easier for you to remember. It should be random but make sense to you only. Use this standard for every password you create.
3. Use Two-Step Verification – On websites that have it, always choose two-step verification because this is your biggest deterrent to would-be hackers. It’s kind of like how robbers don’t like to go into a locked car or house. Keep your passwords locked up and your accounts hard to get into, and they’ll leave you alone.
4. Close Out Unused Accounts – If you have online bank accounts, social media accounts, shopping accounts and any accounts that you never use that have passwords, consider canceling them. If you’re not using them, a hacker might decide to and you may not even notice.
5. Use Letters, Numbers and Symbols – The more random letters, numbers and symbols you can use, the better for security. Some systems don’t let you, but use everything you’re allowed to make the password the most random possible.
6. Make Longer Passwords – If a system lets you use 20-figure passwords, do it. The longer your passwords are, the harder it will be for anyone to guess or break into the account. It will take them much longer to guess 20 figures than it will seven.
7. Use Password Generators – These are really great for choosing truly horrible-looking and hard to figure out passwords. They’ll be truly random so that you can then use that as a password for the system. If you do this, be sure to copy and paste it someplace to save.
8. Ensure It’s Really Random – You want all passwords to be truly random without any identifying information within. No birthdays, anniversaries, locations or anything like that, even though it makes them harder to remember. Plus, do not use the same ones for each account you open.
9. Change Them Often – You should try to change all your passwords about every three to four months. You don’t need to do them all on the same day, but try to make it a habit to change them as often as you can to avoid problems.
If you follow this advice, you’ll likely not experience breaches as often as other people who do not use strong passwords. But remember – any service you use is still open to other types of breaches via the company, so choose where you create accounts and what information you share wisely.