World Password Day is observed annually on the first Thursday in May, and is a celebration to promote better password habits. Passwords are critical gatekeepers to our digital identities, allowing us to access online shopping, dating, banking, social media, private work and life communications so it's important to keep them secure. In celebration of World Password Day, we’ve listed some key tips to simplifying your password security – and to understanding why it’s so important.
Focus on Length of the Password
Passwords should be at least 12-15 characters long, containing letters, numbers and symbols. Keep it simple by creating a short sentence that's easy to remember, like myfavoritecolorisblue. If the website asks you to use numbers and symbols, spread those out throughout the password. For example, myFavoriteco1ori$blue.
Use Different Passwords for Accounts that Contain Sensitive Information
If you are using the same password across all accounts with personal information in them, once they've been hacked, all your accounts using the same password can be accessed. Just like you use different keys for different places, use different passwords for different accounts.
Use a Password Manager to Keep Track of Passwords
Most of us use the same password for all accounts because it's easier to keep track of them that way, and we know that writing them down isn't safe either. A password manager is a tool that stores and protects passwords in an encrypted vault that is accessed with a master password. Oftentimes, these programs can generate hard-to-crack passwords for you too. If you are interested in a password manager, make sure the company you choose doesn't have access to your stored passwords or your master password.
Use Multi-factor Authentication
Simply put, this means using two pieces of information to log into an account instead of just one password. You can usually find this option in the online settings of the account. Most services will send a short code to an email address or cell phone to verify it's you signing in, and once that code is entered, you may access the account.
Don't Allow Browsers to Remember Your Passwords
It's definitely easier to have your computer store passwords for you, but if anybody logged onto your computer, they'd easily have access to your personal accounts without needing a password. Also, be sure to log off your computer and any personal accounts when finished.
Be Strategic With Your Secret Questions
The answers to those secret questions oftentimes aren't secret to anybody who knows you personally. A quick Google search can find where you went to high school or a simple guess that your favorite color is pink might give access to your accounts to the wrong people. There's no rule you have to be honest with these secret answers. Use an answer that somebody wouldn't be able to guess but that you can remember.
Download this guide for more great tips to keep you, your sensitive information and your passwords safe, and share a password security tip on your social media in honor of World Password Day!
Sarah is the Media Specialist at Heartland Bank. She graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a degree in Communication Studies. Sarah enjoys spending time with her family and friends and organizing and decorating her home.