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What every user should know about passwords

The idea of an unauthorized user gaining access to your personal information is scary. However, if you own a smart phone, computer or tablet this is simply the cost of doing business. We protect our devices from harm, but do we really pay as much attention as we should to our passwords? They represent the only real barrier between our sensitive information and bad actors. Knowing the basics can make a world of difference.

The Basics on password protection

Since passwords are the virtual keys to our castle, we can best protect ourselves by following some basic guidelines. It goes without saying that they should never be shared or written down. Keeping your personal information safe is your priority. Sharing usernames and passwords or placing a sticky note with your credentials on your monitor went from being slightly risky to completely reckless.

The next rule of thumb has to do with length and complexity. A strong password should contain no less than 12 characters and be complex. Experts recommend word combinations with numbers and characters that you change regularly. To manage these ever changing, complex passwords consider using password managers like LastPass or Dashlane that require master passwords to view all of your saved passwords. Businesses should have a designed and implemented policy reflecting these recommendations.

Threats Abound

Unfortunately no matter how hard you try, no password is 100% safe. Because hackers can use and sell them on the dark web there will always be attempts made to compromise them. Two avenues commonly used are brute force and phishing. When it comes to brute force the options are limitless. Software programs have been designed for the very purpose of trying endless combinations of letters and numbers until access is gained. This is extremely hard to guard against but the more complex the password the harder it is to crack.

Additionally, make sure you don’t reuse old passwords and change them up with regularity. Phishing is trickier. It’s up to you to be ultra-careful not to fall for these clever email traps. Evaluate your emails for authenticity and tone. Would the person sending the email ever ask you to do what they are asking you to do? When in doubt contact IT to protect data and network security. If the message appears to be from a business head directly to their website before entering credentials. There’s no such thing as too careful when it comes to protecting information. You’ll never regret taking the few extra minutes to protect yourself.

We live in a digital world where a mass amount of information is protected by a few letter and number combinations we call passwords. Making sure we stay vigilant and never become complacent when it relates to our passwords can make the difference between being safe and being sorry. For more information security and data security call the experts at DataShield.

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