(NationalUSNews.com) – A secure password can be the difference between an account that a hacker can access with ease and one that is well-protected and secure. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t know how to create secure passwords. An estimated 24% of Americans still use passwords like “password,” “Qwerty” or “123456,” even in secure settings. 66% use the same password across multiple accounts, which means that if one is compromised, the others are more likely to go down, as well.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to secure your passwords and increase the odds that it will be “hack-proof.”
1. Use longer passwords when possible.
Longer passwords generally prove more difficult to guess. Plan to use passwords that are at least 8 characters in length to provide the highest possible level of security.
2. Avoid using dictionary words and names.
Hackers often use password crackers that test those common words and combinations against your password. This makes it a lot easier for them to get into your account.
3. Avoid using strings of numbers that are recognizable as “yours.”
That means avoiding the use of phone numbers, your social security number, or your birthdate as part of your password.
4. Don’t use passwords like “Qwerty” or “password” that are easy to guess.
All too many people still use those combinations, and hackers usually include them as part of their strategy. Other common combinations include “abcdef,” “123456,” and seasons or years for passwords that require changing on a regular basis.
5. Use different passwords across websites.
It can be very tempting to use the same password for everything, especially if you have to remember multiple passwords for work. However, if you use the same password, it means that a hacker who breaks into one account may be able to break into another with ease. Instead, make a habit of changing your password regularly to avoid potential problems.
6. Use two-factor authentication when possible.
Two-factor authentication, rather than simply requiring you to use a password to sign in, also requires you to provide another proof of who you are, including access to your email or phone. Two-factor authentication may mean that even if a hacker manages to steal your password, they won’t be able to get into the account.
7. Consider using password managers.
A password manager can generate a complex password that is more difficult for a hacker–or an algorithm–to guess, then help input it for you so that you don’t have to remember it. A password manager can mean more secure passwords and better access protections.
8. Don’t write down your passwords.
Avoid using sticky notes, journals, or other physical documentation of passwords when possible. Try to choose a strategy that will not require you to leave your passwords where someone else can find them. Physical security is just as important as the password you create, and can make an even bigger difference. Around 6% of identity theft occurs because of family members, and even more may occur because of friends or acquaintances.
9. Mix up your character strings when possible.
Consider abbreviating words or using character substitutions: “tr33” for “tree,” for example, or “xtra” instead of “extra” if you intend to use a phrase. This simple mashup can make it more difficult for both hackers and password crackers to guess your password.
Secure passwords can make a huge difference in hackers’ ability to access your accounts. By using secure passwords, you can protect your private data, your banking information, and any other critical information. While no password is guaranteed, creating a secure, hard-to-guess password can help you stay much more secure and make you more confident in your online privacy.
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