Friday, December 21, 2018

Terrible Passwords, Password Security, and Protecting Your Online Account

Last week Splash Data revealed their annual list of worst passwords of the year. Many of those passwords will not be a surprise. Using "123456" and common words or names as your password is always a terrible idea. We all know that it is a terrible idea yet we all know someone who uses terrible passwords. This is a good time remind yourself or your loved ones to update passwords on a regular basis.

Crafting a strong password and periodically changing it is the first step in protecting your online accounts. Common Craft offers this excellent video on how to create a strong password.

Another step in protecting your online accounts is to use two-factor authentication whenever it is offered. For example, when I sign into my Google account on a new computer I not only have to enter my password, I also have to use my cell phone to verify that I'm signing into my account on a new computer. That concept and more are explained in Common Craft's Account Security video.

One more key tip for protecting your online accounts is to never trust text messages or emails that ask you to change your password or confirm account details unless you specifically requested to have your password reset. A scam that I've had a couple of friends ask me about recently involves getting a text message that purports to be from Apple technical support stating that their iTunes account were compromised and that they need to update their passwords. My advice is that if you think your account might have been compromised, don't click the link that was unexpectedly sent to you. Instead, go directly to your account on your computer, phone, or iPad and look for any suspicious activity. Apple tells users to only update passwords and account details that way or at Apple has more tips about keeping your account safe right here.

Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft.  

H/T to Make Use Of for the Splash Data link.