There have been some very high-profile companies in the news as of late because they've been the victims of hacking. In the case of Sony, a large number of their internal files and a handful of their movies were stolen and leaked in the attack. These unfortunate circumstances remind us that we must be vigilant when it comes to our online security whether its in our personal lives or in the business world. Here are five things you can do RIGHT NOW to protect your online security.
1. The more words in a password, the better
When it comes to passwords, several uncomplicated words beat a short complex password. For example, "Twl4x9hm" appears to be a strong password, but it would only take an average desktop computer 15 hours to crack.
If you use a password that has multiple words separated by spaces, like 5 words from the middle of your favourite song, the password is significantly harder to crack, and very easy for you to remember. For example: "but we are all on common ground" would take about 14 decillion years to crack, but it's from a song I know and will remember easily. It's also easy to type because it's natural language. It's a win-win! Most password fields accept space characters, but even if they don't, "butwearealloncommonground" is still quite secure because of its length and because it's made up of multiple words.
2. How to ensure the website you're using is protecting your online identity
There are two scenarios that might suggest the website you're interacting with is not sufficiently protecting your password:
a) You've just finished signing up for the site and they email you your username and password. This means they haven't encrypted your password, and they've sent it to you over an unsecured medium (email).
b) You've just gone through the "I forgot my password" password recovery steps, and the site emails your password to you rather than resetting your password. Another red flag.
If you notice either of these scenarios happen, reset your password to something unique that you have not used elsewhere, so that none of your other accounts are in danger if this site is broken in to.
3. Don't use the same password everywhere
Use unique passwords for everything that matters. It doesn't matter how secure your password is, you can't depend on a service to protect it properly. Let's say that one of your favourite social media sites was broken into, and your extremely secure password was successfully cracked due to a fault in programming. Let's also assume you used that same password for the email account you used to sign up for that social media site. If you've used that email account to sign up for other services, the attackers can now easily gain control of not only the first social media site, but also the email account used to sign up for it, and any services where you've used that email/password combination. Since you used this email account to sign up for services, they can reset the password on that service even if they don't have it because they control the email account.
4. Use a secure password manager service
If you use a unique password for every service you subscribe to, you should be able to avoid any security issues down the line. The major downside to having so many passwords, and the biggest reason people don't do this, is it's hard to remember unique passwords for every single account. That's where password saving services like the award-winning www.lastpass.com can make that a non-issue. You can securely store all your usernames and passwords through this online service, and it's manageable across all your devices.
5. Take the password test
Not sure if your password is secure enough? Click here to see how long it would take the average computer to crack your password.
And of course, if you ever have any concerns about your email or website security, don't hesitate to contact us. We always want to make sure you're well protected.