When the family gathered together for Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law told me that someone had hacked her email account (I always regret getting her an iPad and an email account). The funny thing about family gatherings is that if you are the lawyer in the family everyone expects you to know everything about the law. If you are the tech person, everyone brings their tech issues to you.
Lucky me, I’m the lawyer and the tech person in the family. I’m sure this happens to many of you.
While I was asking my mother-in-law about her account and resetting the password, I chuckled and laughed at the level of security she implemented. As you know, most websites ask you to create security questions and answers. Her email account asked me to answer her security questions which she created on her own. The first question was “What is 1 + 1.” With that security, my 8-year-old nephew could be a hacker.
This made me realize we could all use a few tips on secure passwords. So here are 7 tips on keeping your passwords secure.
Use a unique password.
Create passwords that use a combination of words, numbers, symbols, and both upper and lower case. If you are wondering how to keep your password secure, try to come up with something stronger than “Password” or your birthday.
Don’t use words for your password.
Hackers can use a technique called “dictionary attack” that simply tries a list of words commonly used for passwords. Also, avoid sequential passwords, such as “123456” or “qwerty”. These types of passwords are easily cracked.
Longer passwords are more secure.
Create passwords that are at least 10 – 12 characters long. This makes it harder for hackers to decode your password.
Don’t use one password everywhere.
One of the best ways to keep your passwords secure is to avoid using the same password for all our accounts. It may be simple, but if one of your accounts gets hacked then all your accounts are vulnerable. For example, if you create an account while online shopping and that retailer gets hacked, your email address and password is now vulnerable.
Create obscure passwords.
If you thought your use of the “@” symbol for an “a” and “!” for “1” was clever to avoid hackers, you are incorrect. Hackers know what symbols are commonly used for substitutions and are easily cracked. You should try to create obscure and unexplainable letters, numbers, and symbols that you can remember. Some have suggested using a sentence or phrase as a password creator. For example, use a sentence “The Chicago Cubs took 108 years to win the world series” and create a password using the first letter of each word: “tCCt108ytwtws”.
Use a password manager.
Consider using a password manager, such as LastPass, 1Password, or other services that will help keep your passwords secure and keep them in one place. This makes it easy to manage and many of these services help you create random passwords.
Implement a password policy at your firm.
As you review your passwords, make sure that your password policy at your firm is in place. You have an ethical duty to ensure that you are taking reasonable steps and precautions to protect your client’s data. Keeping your passwords secure is one of the most important steps to take.
Passwords are your friend so make sure you keep them secure. Create a unique, lengthy, and obscure password that is not easily guessable, and you will be on the right track to keeping your passwords secure.
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