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Online security: 10 tips for better password protection
2018-09-06

Is your information safe?

We are in the technology age -- nearly everything is done, and stored, online.

You can check your bank account information, pay bills, and order just about anything. Your email and social media accounts contain droves of personal information -- information that you wouldnt want people to access without your permission.

Are your accounts safe?

Here are some tips from Consumer Reports.

The easiest way to protect yourself is a tough password

Experts say the easiest way to protect your information online is through a complicated password.

"The easier it is for you, the easier it is for the bad guys," Dan Nadir, vice president of digital risk for the cybersecurity firm Proofpoint told Consumer Reports.


Dont use the same password for multiple accounts

It can be difficult to remember multiple passwords and their corresponding accounts but creating a unique password for each account is for your own benefit.

A password management company survey showed that 59 percent of people use the same password for multiple accounts despite knowing the risks. Sixty-one percent of people said they were afraid to forget a password as the reason for using the same sign in.

Additionally, 53 percent of people reported not changing their password in the past year despite a security breach. 

Long and complicated is better than short and sweet

Experts recommend that a password be at least 12 characters long and include a random pattern of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers.

Dont use personal information in your password

The easiest way to get your password hacked is to include personal information such as birthdays and names -- including your children.

Hackers often search social media accounts for personal clues that may be used as passwords.

Dont recycle old passwords

It can be easy to reuse a password from an old account or from a few years ago but you should resist the urge.

Hackers often use passwords obtained through data breaches to try and access financial accounts.

Multifactor logins are safest

Multifactor authentication -- when a program asks for a second form of verification like an email link, text code or a thumbprint -- to access your account is one of the easiest ways to keep your accounts safe.

According to Consumer Reports, 62 percent of Americans use multifactor authentication for online accounts.

Many accounts offer multifactor, or two-factor authentication as an opt-in option for users.

Change passwords frequently

The longer you use the same password, the more likely your account can become compromised.

Users should get into the habit of changing passwords regularly, a minimum of once a year.

Compromised credentials

If an online company that has your information has been hacked, whether or not your credentials were stolen, you should change your password right away.

"It often takes time for those investigating a hack to determine exactly how bad the fallout is, and breaches are often worse than they first appear," Consumer Reports said.

Delete unused accounts

Still have that email from college? Have an account with a store or service you no longer use? Its best to close or delete them so you dont have to worry if they become compromised.

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