In today’s digital world, people use the Internet for many purposes, ranging from email and blogging to shopping and banking. With the sharp rise in online activity over the past two decades, a pronounced need for identity security has arisen. To protect their online accounts and safeguard their personal information, people usually rely on the ubiquitous first line of defense: the password. One of the first developments in the field of Internet security, the password represents an individualized code that allows users to log in to their accounts. As such, it is important for Internet users to understand what constitutes a strong password and how they should protect their passwords from would-be identity thieves.
Don’t use the same password for multiple sites
Using the same password for every website is much like owning one key for multiple houses; if you lose the key and someone finds it, that person has immediate access to all of your property. Although using the same password on multiple sites may help you remember your password without having to write it down, it nevertheless increases your risk of identity theft.
Stay away from common passwords
Studies have shown that humans are notoriously bad at creating the necessary entropy for a secure password. Passwords such as “12345” and “asdfgh” are classic examples of insecure passwords that anyone can guess. In the same vein, you should avoid passwords with repeating combinations of characters. You should also steer clear of passwords containing dictionary words, the names of romantic partners, or biographical information such as a Social Security number.
Use different types of characters
When hackers attempt to steal your password, they typically start with words from the dictionary. Unfortunately, many people only use combinations of dictionary words in their passwords, often to help them remember. In general, the most secure passwords mix up character classes, which include lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Instead of using a password such as “football,” you should consider writing the word as “Fo0tB@Ll,” which incorporated four different character classes.
Keep your password private
After you have developed a secure password, you must make an effort to keep it safe. When you use a computer at an Internet café or hotel, always make sure that you have logged off all websites and closed the browser. Protect your wireless router with a password so people can’t access your information remotely. If you use online banking services, you should check your account at regular intervals for suspicious activity.
About the Author
A successful entrepreneur and business leader with years of experience in a number of fields, Kevin Fallon spent two years as the President of MX Logic, Inc., an Internet security company based in Denver, Colorado. During his time with MX Logic, Fallon raised more than $5 million in venture capital and increased revenue to $4.5 million per year within 15 months.