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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.

Password Problems

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. 

protect your passwords by keeping them in a secure location whether that is a file or a password manager.

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.

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