Internet crime is on the rise. And if you use the same password on multiple sites, you could be putting yourself at unnecessary risk. Here’s how to overhaul your personal password security to protect yourself, your money, and your identity.
Make a List
Many of us have accounts on sites and apps we don’t even remember making. With retail stores requiring you to create an account to access the best deals, we’ll sign up without a thought. Try to make a list of every active account you’ve created. You might miss a few, but the more you can remember, the better.
Delete Unused Accounts
Now that you’ve made a list of logins, consider deleting or deactivating any accounts that you don’t use. For example, if you created a Twitter account but only posted once or twice a year ago, you probably won’t miss it if you delete that account.
The fewer random accounts you have out there, the less likely you are to have your personal data exposed.
Generate New Passwords
Now comes the hard work. Generate a new password for every account–and don’t use duplicates. A random password generator creates an ultra-secure string of letters, numbers, and characters. This is significantly safer than using your pet’s name and your birthdate, for example.
Install a Password Vault App
It’s unlikely that any of us could remember all those long, randomly generated passwords. Instead of writing them all down, install a password management or vault app to keep everything organized and secure.
LastPass is the most popular management tool, although there are others on the market.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Is two-factor authentication a hassle when you just want to check your bank balance or pay a bill? Yes–but it’s also a simple way to multiply your account security. Many new devices include a fingerprint scanner or facial ID scanner. Some sites may require a one-time use code sent your phone or email.
If a site or app you use does not currently offer two-factor security, you can use a third-party app, such as Google Authenticator, to add the extra layer yourself.
Never Give Out Your New Passwords
Phishing scams to steal your account credentials are getting more and more sophisticated. For example, scammers are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic with phishing emails disguised as coupons for fast food delivery.
Never give out your personal information, including passwords. And don’t use the same passwords to register for multiple sites.