3 Data-Saving Strategies You Need
to Implement to Protect Your Passwords

Top Tips on Working from Home

In January 2020, 5.4 billion people were active, registered users of the world wide web - that’s 59% of the world population. With internet usage, comes online accounts and passwords.

Whether you’re an online shopper with credit card details stored on your laptop, or the owner of a small business that holds databases of sensitive information, it’s absolutely crucial that these accounts are kept safe and away from thieving cyber hands.

Your password is like your front door key. Would you leave your front door open or install a lock that was easily broken? Thought not. Optimizing and protecting your passwords should be at the top of your priority list.

It's hard to be anonymous on the internet these days. Hackers use many methods to keep invisible when they break into websites where your accounts are stored.

In this article, we will look at three ways you can protect your passwords from tech-savvy thieves. This is not only essential in our rapidly evolving technological landscape, but it is also a personal responsibility not to be taken lightly.

Poster: Protect Your Personally Identifiable Information  Because... If You Don't There is Someone That Will Take It!

1. Make Passwords Long and Complex

The average website requires your passwords to be between six and seven characters. However, it is recommended to take that minimum character count a little further.

Coming up with a password in the twelve-to-fifteen character range, or even higher, is a great approach. A long password that is difficult to crack is your first line of defense against securing your online accounts.

It is not recommended to use everyday words or phrases in your password, such as anything found in the average compendium. Doing so opens you up to common methods of cybercrime such as “Dictionary Attacks” where hackers run automated software against common combinations of words found in the dictionary. To counteract this, most websites require your password to have at least one special character or number. This requirement will make the password harder to break, and it also reduces your risk of falling victim to any number of security breaches.

It is also suggested to stay away from using personal characteristics when choosing a password such as: your kid’s name, your pet’s name, your birthday, or any other terms and phrases that anybody can pick up by checking out your social media profiles.

Not following password protecting strategies can expose you to all kinds of data breaches. Detections of ransomware known as "Sodinokibi" skyrocketed in 2019, and that number is steadily rising despite only 15% of ransomware victims paying up.

Whether it be ransomware, malware, phishing, or brute force - these threats are very real and very damaging to your business.

2 Management Is Key

In March of 2019, Facebook disclosed that they have been storing hundreds of millions of user passwords since 2012. Over 20,000 employees at Facebook had easy access over that time, and as many as 600 million users may have been affected.

If this admission proves anything, it's that having the same password for all your online accounts is not the safest way to perform your online business. But unfortunately, password reuse is one of the greatest threats to online security out there.

On average, internet users have, 90 online accounts on multiple websites. However, if all those passwords are different, memorizing them can be quite a challenge. Writing them down in a notebook may seem like the easiest and most convenient strategy. However, that leaves your passwords exposed and holds the risk of them being displaced, lost or stolen.

The best solution lies in using a trusted password manager that can be installed on your devices. It cleverly collects your passwords and stores them in an easily accessible virtual “lockbox”.

Apple screenshot of 'Password Required' window.

Storing your passwords securely in the cloud can ease the pressure of trying to remember different, complicated passwords that may elude you when you need them the most. Being locked out of your accounts because of a forgotten password can cause unnecessary stress and frustration. This situation is easily avoidable if you have all your passwords in one place.

With a password manager, you only need to remember a single master key.

There are different types of password managers for storing sensitive information:

  • Offline password managers: passwords are placed in a locked file on your hard drive that is only accessible with a master password on a single device.

  • Stateless password managers: generates passwords using a random combination of a master password, username, and the site the password is associated with.

  • Online password managers: allows online access to your passwords regardless of the device you are using to sign in with.

Online password managers are slightly riskier due to the fact they can be accessed anywhere on any device. So in response to this, online password managers encrypt every password you add before uploading it to the cloud.

As for cost, password managers come with free and paid options. Paid options require a monthly or annual cost. The free ones provide basic protection and come with premium features that require a small fee. Depending on your needs and requirements, it is important that you read user reviews, look up statistics, compare and contrast each brand before making a decision that is best for you and your sensitive data.

3. Your Browser is a Tool, Not a Confidant

Of course, a password manager is optional. If you choose not to implement one, you can always rely on your web browser to save your passwords on any site you log on to.

It’s free, convenient and easy to do. However, that option is inherently problematic and opens you up to potentially harmful scenarios that can drastically alter your online experience.

Having a more secure method of password retention, like a password manager would make it more difficult for someone to access your accounts in the event your phone or laptop is lost or stolen. So, the next time Google asks if you’d like them to remember your password, it's best to decline their offer.

Treat your online passwords like high-value diamonds with cut and clarity to match. The hard reality is that identity theft is on the rise. Having a strong password that is properly secured and safe is the key to reducing your risks of falling victim to cybercrime. And by taking the above steps, you rest assured that you're using the best possible strategies to protect yourself from irreversible exposure.

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Gary Stevens

About the Author

Gary Stevens is a front end developer. He's a full time blockchain geek and a volunteer working for the Ethereum foundation as well as an active Github contributor.