This month at BrightDime we’re talking security: protecting against identity theft, how to stay safe online, how to identify financial scams, and more. What does this have to do with financial wellness? Well, there’s the obvious: keeping your online banking secure protects your money. But there’s also the fact that identity theft can wreck your credit, that scams (online, over the phone, or in person) go after whatever cash you have on hand or your credit card numbers, and that confidence in your security means less stress and worry in your life.
We’re starting with passwords. Every online account (financial and otherwise) needs one. Here are 5 quick guidelines to keep in mind.
1) Don’t reuse passwords. If a site or service leaks your username and password you can bet those credentials will be tried on other sites – like your online banking site or email provider. Create a unique password for every site and online service.
2) Don’t use personal details in your passwords. Maiden names, addresses, pet names, birthdays, etc. This information isn’t as hard to find as you think and the people you want to keep out of your accounts know it’s easy to remember – so they’re sure to try it.
3) “Password” isn’t a good password. Neither is “1234”. And as you may have guessed “Password1234” isn’t any better. Splashdata published the list of the most common passwords of 2018 and if you see yours on there it’s a good idea to change it. https://www.sdmmag.com/articles/96013-splashdata-announces-100-worst-passwords-of-2018
4) Length and variety are key. The longer the password, the better. And the more different types of characters, the better. Aim for at least 8 characters and mix it up with letters, numbers, and symbols (@#$^, etc)
5) Don’t store your passwords in a document saved on your computer called “Passwords.doc”. The downside of creating unique, complex passwords is that they can be hard to remember. Password managers offer strong protection and tools for managing your passwords. Both LastPass and 1Password have good reputations, offer tools for managing passwords in the web browser and on your mobile phone, and can even help you generate strong, secure passwords.