Passwords a gold dust for hackers. With them, if you’ve not followed best practice they can use them to access all sorts of information, which is why you really want to keep them secure. Here to help you do just that we’ve created this guide detailing some quick and easy ways to help keep your passwords secure.
Your online passwords are the thin line that separates all your information from everyone else. Whether it be financial or social, a lot about you and your identity can be discovered when someone has access to your online accounts, which is why it’s so important that you keep that information safe.
And it probably wouldn’t be an understatement to say that most people don’t put that much effort into keeping their passwords safe.
According to DataProt, in 2021 51% of people use the same passwords for both their personal and work accounts, with the password ‘123456’ is still being used by over 23 million accounts worldwide.
So it’s safe to say that we need to be better at protecting our passwords. Even though they are not fool-proof, talented hackers are able to break into your account in the same way a robber can break into your home.
But you can definitely make it harder for people to break in, with added layers of online security working in the same way as deadbolts and security cameras.
Here is everything that we recommend doing to enhance your online security so you can keep your passwords away from prying eyes.
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Use a password manager
Pretty much every password you use for your online accounts should be unique, but it can be hard to think up and remember multiple passwords for various sites.
This encourages bad habits and results in people using the same, or very similar, passwords across multiple platforms, which makes you more vulnerable.
The easiest way to keep track of all your passwords while ensuring that they’re all different is to use password management software. It will store all of your passwords, either online or locally, in encrypted storage that’s protected by a master password.
You can check out our picks of the best password managers with both free and paid options. We’ve also listed a couple of choices just below so you can pick the software that suits you best.
Do security audits
Depending on what browser you’re using, there will be a way to check in with your passwords and how safe they are.
Using Chrome as an example, you can store all your passwords in one place, though this system isn’t as airtight as using a password manager. However, it will let you know if you have any compromised passwords and will recommend that you change any that appear more than once.
If you want to check your passwords, click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner and click on Settings. From there, you can click on Auto-Fill to see which passwords you have for each site.
If you have any unsecured passwords the notification above will show up here, alongside a list of your information for each site.
Browsers like Edge, Vivaldi and Firefox have similar features that you can use to track and change your passwords. It’s important that you take action if your browser informs you that your passwords need to be changed, especially if you’re using similar passwords across multiple platforms.
Use an antivirus software
Keeping devices secure from viruses or attacks is the first step to keeping everything on your device protected.
Antivirus software is pretty essential, as it is the first line of defence when it comes to real-time threats that are often delivered over the web through ‘drive-by downloads’.
You can check out the antivirus software’s that we liked in our best antivirus list. There are many to choose from, with paid and free services available. We’ve listed a couple below so you can get to grips with what the software entails and how it will benefit your devices.
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Spot phishing scams
It can feel daunting knowing that some people are out to get your information, but there are things you can do to prevent yourself from falling for the schemes.
Phishing attacks come in many forms, but the most common way that people will try and get your password information is by sending you a fake email or message that tells you that you need to reset your password or provide personal information to recover your account.
Firstly, you must always check that these messages are coming from a legitimate source. This can be as easy as checking the sender email, any unusual words or symbols likely indicate that it’s not from the real company.
If you do get a link sent to you in a message, especially from someone you don’t know, it’s always best to avoid clicking on it directly and instead, type the address into the URL. So if you get a message concerning your Facebook account with a link saying it will reset your password, go to Facebook in a separate window and try to log in there.
You can also do some research; check with the company if they’ve sent anything your way about a password reset, or if they have any specific protocols when it comes to contacting customers.
Mobile provider O2, for example, will always send you a separate message that tells you not to share your personal information with anyone who calls or asks, as they don’t work for the company. So if you’re trying to retrieve a new code for your account – whether that be to reset a password or something else – you will always know if the message is genuinely from O2.
A lot of these attacks are fairly obvious to spot, but if you’re unsure you should always try and contact the company or ask for advice from a trusted friend or family member.
Update your software
Last but not least, you should always be updating your devices, whether that be your phone, tablet, smartwatch or laptop. The latest updates will almost always include security fixes that are there to keep your devices safe.
In other words, if you broke the lock on your front door, you wouldn’t wait around to get it fixed. In the same vein, you don’t want to be leaving the door open for malicious websites or malware to get in before your devices are beefed up with the latest security.