04 Sep 2013

Strong Passwords Keep You Safe Online

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Tech Tip:

Strong Passwords Keep You Safe Online

Strong-PasswordIn a world where passwords inundate every aspect of our online life, it’s no wonder we make them so simple to remember. For the past two years, the most commonly used password was ‘password’. Trailing behind that were 123456, 12345678 and abc123. These popular passwords have remained unchanged by users simply because they are easy to remember. Hackers know this, making the threat of cyber-crime an ever increasing concern. Fortunately, there are ways for you to better protect yourself. Creating a strong password is one of them.Are you currently using the same password for more than one online account? If so, now is the time to change your ways. We are going to show you some simple steps for creating a stronger online password to help you keep your identity and financials safe online.Create “passphrases” rather than passwords. A passphrase is similar to a password, but is generally longer providing you with additional security. Passphrases are easier to remember than passwords because they are personal to you. Phrases, addresses or short sentences will work as passphrases. Some examples would be “2DisneyL@nd”, “203_MapleParkDr.” and “Walk_Bear@9PM!”. These may not be the most sophisticated of passwords but they’re easy to remember for you, while making it harder for anyone else to guess.Use a variety of numbers and symbols. An ideal passphrase would contain symbols, numbers, punctuation and underscores with upper and lower case letters. Padding your passphrases with any or all of the suggested characters variations will make it more difficult for any hacking program to break. If you are able to use each of these variations within your password it does not necessarily have to be long. For instance, “D0g….$” is an incredibly strong password. These 8 characters contain lower and upper case letters, a number, punctuation and a symbol.

Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple sites. Think about dividing passwords into different tiers. Tier one is for sites containing critical information, such as bank accounts and credit card information. Since each of these websites contains highly personal information, a different password or passphrase should be used for each site. Tier two is for subscriptions, blogs and social media sites. Because these sites would not be as personally devastating if they were compromised, the same password may be used.

Utilize a password manager. Now, we know what you’re thinking, “How am I supposed to remember all of these different passwords?”  This is where a password manager steps in. These downloadable programs – such as Last Pass, RoboForm and KeePass – work, in essence, like a safe. In order to utilize this type of service, you will first need to set up an account. Next, you will be asked to create your master password or passphrase. Finally, you will use the password manager to create new passwords for all of your new and existing accounts. The first time you visit a page that requires a user name and password, the program will prompt you to log in to its service. Once logged in, the password manager will plug the stored passwords into that page’s required fields, remembering them every time. This way, the only password you will need to remember will be the one for the password manager.

It’s that simple. These easy to remember tips should help in keeping your online personal information safe and secure. If you feel you have any questions regarding passphrases or password managers, please contact the BMS Hardware Support team via email or call 800-634-7734 ext. 6.

Do you have any passphrase tips to share with us? Please let us know below.

Important Reminders…

Know your email password and email provider
It’s better to be proactive and find this information out now rather than after something happens and you can’t get into your email.

Update your password in all your email clients
If you access your email through Outlook (or another desktop-based email client) and on your smartphone, remember to update your password in those clients immediately after changing the email password with your email provider. Otherwise, your emails will no longer download to those email clients.