Cybersecurity breaches are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated, against both individuals and businesses. A simple but crucial way to mitigate these risks is by improving password security.

Our recent blog post looked at five password security apps to consider and how they can allow you to easily access, manage and store your passwords in an encrypted form.

Now let’s explore some practical password security tips to keep your accounts, and therefore data, safe online.

  1. Create a strong password – despite making it easier to remember, avoid the temptation to use personal information like your date of birth or child’s name. In fact, try not to use real words at all where possible. Use a mixture of upper and lower case, symbols, numbers and punctuation and make it reasonably long. Most importantly, don’t use the same password across multiple accounts. It might be an obvious tip, but research shows that 91% are aware of the dangers yet 59% do it anyway.

  2. Don’t use unsecured public Wi-Fi – as more businesses adapt to a remote working model that sees staff working from home, but also across a variety of locations, including coffee shops and libraries, it pays to be aware of the risks of using public Wi-Fi. Avoid using websites that require you to log in to your account when using public Wi-Fi, as this data could be intercepted by hackers.

  3. Use a VPN – one way to get around the above situation is to use a virtual private network (VPN). This masks your IP address to make your online actions virtually untraceable and uses encryption to scramble data. There are a number of VPN providers and platforms, including Norton Secure VPN, Express VPN and NordVPN.   These are paid services, costing around $10 a month.

  4. Don’t allow your browser to store passwords – it is so much easier to simply allow your browser to save your passwords, rather than having to remember and manually log in each time, but is also so much more dangerous. Never allow your browser to save your passwords – if someone were to gain access to your device (remotely or physically), they can gain access to your passwords. It simply isn’t worth it.

  5. Two-factor authentication – whilst selecting a strong password goes a long way, to give yourself extra protection, it’s worth considering two-factor, or multi-factor authentication apps, which offer a more secure way to log in to the websites and online services you use. Some popular two-factor authentication apps adding that extra layer of protection include Authy, Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator.

  6. Consider remote wiping tools – remote wiping allows you to remotely erase the data on a device such as a laptop or mobile if it is lost or stolen. It has to be set up beforehand, but is a useful way of preventing data breaches.

  7. Use data breach monitors – prevention might be better than cure, but while you can take steps to increase your safety online, unfortunately it isn’t possible to eradicate risk entirely. It’s a good idea to consider the use of data breach monitors, such as Have I Been Pwned, which allows you to search across multiple data breaches to see if your email address or phone number has been compromised, allowing you to act quickly to reduce further risk.

There can be a complacency when it comes to password security.  Many of us know we should take it more seriously, but there’s a sense of ‘it won’t happen to me.’ However it can and it does, so it’s worth taking a few moments to apply some of these password security tips.

Photo by zibik on Unsplash

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