How to Avoid Being Hacked with Better Password Practices
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Want to protect your accounts and finances online? Here are the key password practices to keep your accounts secure and minimize your chances of being hacked!
Having my email account hacked recently brought to light a bigger problem.
My password practices were not up to snuff despite using a password manager. I’ve been cleaning up that situation ever since.
There are a lot of reasons why people violate security recommendations when it comes to personal passwords.
It’s difficult to remember so many passwords – let alone keep them straight as to which one goes to which program or website.
That’s why I was using the same few passwords over and over. They weren’t very complex either. I used dictionary words with a couple of numbers.
I’ve used a spreadsheet, but it was stored at home and I couldn’t get my passwords when traveling. Plus it took time to stop and find the spreadsheet (which I did password-protect) and get the right password.
All of these habits were putting my accounts, and the information stored in them, at risk.
Best Password Practices
People should always create a strong password which means it is difficult to figure out by people and programs.
Passwords should not include dictionary words. That definitely rules out the names of your kids or pets.
Additionally, mix in both upper and lower case characters along with at least one number and one special character.
A special character is punctuation or symbol. A minimum of eight characters in length is recommended.
I used to see passwords taped to the side of monitors not so long ago. Never keep your passwords in view.
Password Security Options
A few months ago I started using a password manager, Lastpass, to help me access various online resources no matter where I was geographically or what computer I was using.
It is installed as a browser add-on which automatically detects login fields at sites I visit.
Instead of using one of my old standby passwords, I now let the manager generate a strong password and store it.
Now every site has a unique password and I don’t have to worry about trying to remember it. I can access the password vault from any computer using by logging in at the website with my master password. Best of all, it is free.
There are lots of password managers out there. Two other free programs that seem to have similar features are Passpack and Needmypassword.
Storing passwords securely is one step in online security but it shouldn't be overlooked. What’s your system for dealing with passwords?
This post was originally published in April 2011. It's been updated November 2018.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info.
I put all of my passwords in keypass because that is the most secure way to save all of my passwords in one place.
I feel more secure having my passwords in there, but it was tedious converting them all to more secure ones.
I’ve seen a lot of people use a public computer at at library or school and forget to log out. That can be another way of getting hacked easily. Keep your guard up and don’t allow public computers to remember your log ins.
I’ve been told about Lastpass. Is it really that secure? What if you lose your lastpass password though?
I really need to improve on my PW practice b/c they aren’t that complicated.
I started out as a computer science major in college before changing to economics. Anyway, to be truly secure, you need a password that is 14 characters and contains letters, numbers, and symbols.
@Brandon, that’s a good point. I logged onto a public computer on our last cruise and it brought up some other person’s gmail account.
@ Yakezie, If you lose your password manager password, you are out of luck. In that case, you would have to visit each site and use their password reminder feature to start over.
@ Robert, I can’t imagine people manually creating and using 14 character passwords so a manager for it is essential.