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If there’s one thing cybersecurity experts agree on, it’s that you need a complex password for every website you use, and there aren’t two. identical. According to Adam Doupé, director of the Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics at Arizona State University in Tempe, hackers prey on small websites – say that family business you bought socks from last year – because they are more vulnerable. “Then they try to use the stolen password to access your online banking, email and social media accounts,” says Doupé. So if your Facebook password is the same as the one you used for the small business that was hacked, someone might get a fake friend request from you.
Your first line of defense may be to use a password manager like LastPass to help you keep track of all your passwords (so you don’t have to). Here are some other suggestions from the pros.
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Create a complex password
At a minimum, strong passwords contain multiple words and special characters tied together. “It’s not your dog’s name with an exclamation point,” says Adam J. Aviv, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science at George Washington University in Washington, DC. “Instead, make a five-word passphrase of something that makes sense to you.” A possible example: instead of “Rusty!” try “Rustychasesthebirdseveryday!”
But let’s face it, remembering one long passphrase for an account hardly seems feasible, let alone having a different one for each account you have. And in case you haven’t heard, it’s a cybersecurity no-no to write down your passwords in a notebook or the notes app on your phone. If you only relied on memory, imagine how many times you would have to click on the “forgot password” link! “I don’t even know the passwords to most of my accounts,” admits Doupé.
How a password manager can help you
Both experts use some type of software application to keep their passwords straight. It’s called a password manager because it creates, organizes and populates highly encrypted passwords for you. “I use a program called LastPass, and I also set up my mom with it,” Doupé says.
In a nutshell, you download the extension for your favorite browser – there are versions for Google Chrome, Safari and others. Every day you log in to LastPass and it will generate a secure password for any new accounts you create and fill in the password for those you have already used. Once you have a password manager installed, you may even want to invest some time in updating your passwords, especially those for social media, online banking and email. , which are popular targets for hackers. According to Aviv, “The strongest password is really a random sequence of characters that a password manager comes up with.”
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A double layer of protection
LastPass also has an additional security feature called “multi-factor authorization”. It uses another method, such as a text or fingerprint scan, to confirm your identity. In fact, many online banking providers and other companies that hold sensitive information may offer the option of multi-factor authorization, usually via SMS or email.
While it might seem like a hassle to enter an extra code (you just want to get started already!), it could end up saving you a lot of trouble in the long run. As Doupé points out, the real problem is navigating your way through recovering a hacked account.
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