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We love good security and keeping your login details safe starts with good password management. Use these tips to keep your login details safe and reduce your risk in case your login details are leaked in a data breach.

1. Use a strong and unique password for each online account.

Using a strong and unique password for each online account is a crucial aspect of effective online password management. It is a fundamental step in protecting your personal information and maintaining your online security. Here’s some content elaborating on the importance of using a strong and unique password for each online account:

Creating a strong and unique password for each online account significantly enhances your security in the digital realm. The reason behind this practice is to minimize the potential impact of a data breach or a compromised account. Here’s why it’s crucial:

  1. Protection against password reuse: Using the same password across multiple accounts is risky. If one account is breached, cybercriminals can gain access to all your other accounts that share the same password. By using a unique password for each account, you prevent unauthorized access to your other accounts, limiting the damage caused by a single breach.
  2. Safeguarding against dictionary and brute-force attacks: Hackers use various techniques, such as dictionary attacks and brute-force attacks, to crack passwords. A strong and unique password, comprising a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters, makes it much harder for hackers to guess or crack through automated methods.
  3. Protection against credential stuffing attacks: Credential stuffing attacks occur when hackers use stolen username and password combinations from one platform to gain unauthorized access to other platforms. By using a unique password for each account, you effectively mitigate the risk of falling victim to these attacks, as stolen credentials from one platform will not grant access to your other accounts.
  4. Enhancing security beyond usernames: Cybercriminals often target accounts based on common or easily guessable usernames. A strong and unique password provides an additional layer of security by making it significantly more challenging for hackers to gain unauthorized access, even if they know or can guess your username.
  5. Mitigating the impact of data breaches: Data breaches have become increasingly common, with numerous high-profile incidents affecting millions of users. By using a unique password for each online account, you minimize the impact of a data breach. Even if one of your accounts is compromised, your other accounts remain secure, as hackers cannot use the same credentials to gain unauthorized access.

Remember, while it might be challenging to remember multiple strong and unique passwords, using a reputable password manager can simplify the process. These tools securely store your passwords, generate complex and unique passwords for each account, and auto-fill them when needed.

2. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible.

Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible is a vital step in enhancing your online security. It provides an extra layer of protection beyond passwords, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorized access to your accounts. Here’s a more detailed explanation of the importance of enabling 2FA:

  1. Added layer of security: Two-factor authentication requires users to provide two separate forms of verification to access an account. Typically, this involves something you know (such as a password) and something you have (such as a unique code generated on your mobile device). By combining these two factors, 2FA adds an extra layer of security that makes it significantly more difficult for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to your accounts.
  2. Mitigation of password-related risks: Passwords can be vulnerable to various attacks, including phishing, brute-force attacks, and credential stuffing. By enabling 2FA, even if an attacker manages to obtain or crack your password, they would still need the second factor (e.g., a unique code or biometric verification) to gain access. This greatly reduces the effectiveness of password-based attacks and provides an additional safeguard for your accounts.
  3. Protection against stolen credentials: In cases where your login credentials have been compromised due to a data breach or another security incident, 2FA acts as a defence mechanism. Even if cybercriminals possess your username and password, they won’t be able to access your account without the second factor of authentication. This helps to prevent unauthorized access and mitigate the potential damage caused by compromised credentials.
  4. Safeguarding against phishing attacks: Phishing attacks involve tricking users into providing their login credentials on fake websites or through deceptive emails. By using 2FA, even if you inadvertently fall victim to a phishing attempt and enter your credentials on a fraudulent site, the attackers won’t be able to access your account without the second factor. This significantly reduces the success rate of phishing attacks and provides an additional layer of protection against account compromise.
  5. Wide availability and ease of use: Many online platforms and services now offer 2FA as an option to enhance security. Enabling 2FA is generally straightforward and user-friendly, often involving a simple setup process through email, text messages, or authenticator apps. The benefits of increased security far outweigh any minimal inconvenience caused by the extra verification step.

It’s important to note that while 2FA significantly strengthens your account security, it is not fool proof. Some forms of 2FA, such as SMS-based verification, can still be vulnerable to attacks like SIM swapping. Whenever possible, it’s recommended to use app-based authenticators or hardware tokens for 2FA, as they provide stronger protection.

There are many multifactor apps on the market. Below are our top 3 choices:

Google Authenticator

Google Authenticator is our #1 choice for easy and reliable 2-factor authentication.

Get it on Google Play Get it in the iOS app store

Microsoft Authenticator

Microsoft Authenticator is Microsoft’s preferred method for account safety in Microsoft 365.

Get it on Google Play Get it in the iOS app store

Duo Mobile

Duo Mobile is another great option, with single-tap login, and 2-factor authentication.

Get it on Google Play Get it in the iOS app store

3. Avoid using personal information in passwords.

Avoiding the use of personal information in passwords is a critical aspect of online security. Cybercriminals often employ various techniques, such as social engineering and data breaches, to gather personal information about individuals. By refraining from using personal details in passwords, you significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access. Here’s a more detailed explanation of why it’s important to avoid using personal information in passwords:

  1. Protection against targeted attacks: Personal information, such as your name, birthdate, address, or significant dates, is often easily discoverable through social media platforms, public records, or online searches. If you incorporate this information into your passwords, you become more vulnerable to targeted attacks. Cybercriminals can use this readily available information to guess or crack your passwords, gaining unauthorized access to your accounts.
  2. Mitigation of brute-force and dictionary attacks: Cybercriminals use automated tools that systematically try various combinations of words, phrases, and personal information to crack passwords. By avoiding the use of personal details, you make it significantly more challenging for attackers to guess or crack your passwords through brute-force or dictionary attacks.
  3. Protection against password-guessing: Password-guessing attacks involve cybercriminals attempting to guess your password by using common personal information, such as your name, pet’s name, or family members’ names. By excluding these predictable elements from your passwords, you eliminate the risk of falling victim to password-guessing attacks.
  4. Enhanced security beyond personal data breaches: Data breaches have become alarmingly common, with personal information being leaked from various online platforms. If you use personal details in your passwords, your accounts become more susceptible to unauthorized access in the aftermath of a data breach. By using unrelated and complex passwords, you prevent attackers from easily connecting leaked personal information to your passwords.
  5. Protection of multiple accounts: Using personal information in passwords can have a cascading effect, compromising multiple accounts if one password is cracked. Many people tend to reuse passwords across multiple platforms, which means that if one account is breached, cybercriminals gain access to other accounts that use the same password. By avoiding the use of personal information in passwords, you mitigate the risk of a single breach compromising multiple accounts.

Instead of personal information, consider creating strong and unique passwords that are a combination of random characters, numbers, and special symbols. Ideally, passwords should be at least 12 characters long and include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Using a password manager can help you generate and securely store complex passwords without the need to remember them all.

4. Regularly update your passwords.

Regularly updating your passwords is a crucial aspect of maintaining strong online security. It helps protect your accounts from unauthorized access, reduces the risk of compromised credentials, and enhances overall digital safety. Here’s a more detailed explanation of the importance of regularly updating passwords:

  1. Mitigating the impact of data breaches: Data breaches have become increasingly common, and many individuals’ personal information and passwords have been exposed in these incidents. By regularly updating your passwords, you reduce the risk of attackers using compromised credentials to gain unauthorized access to your accounts. Even if your old password was part of a data breach, changing it promptly ensures that the compromised password becomes obsolete.
  2. Preventing unauthorized access: Regularly changing passwords helps minimize the window of opportunity for attackers attempting to crack or guess your login credentials. It adds an extra layer of complexity and reduces the likelihood of unauthorized access. By frequently updating your passwords, you make it more challenging for cybercriminals to exploit old or weak passwords associated with your accounts.
  3. Combating password reuse: Many individuals have a tendency to reuse passwords across multiple accounts for the sake of convenience. However, if one account with a reused password is compromised, all other accounts using the same password become vulnerable. By regularly updating your passwords, you encourage the use of unique and distinct passwords for each account, reducing the risk of a domino effect resulting from password reuse.
  4. Staying ahead of evolving threats: Cybersecurity threats and attack methods are constantly evolving. New techniques and tools are continuously developed to crack passwords and exploit vulnerabilities. By regularly changing your passwords, you stay ahead of these evolving threats, making it more difficult for attackers to compromise your accounts using outdated techniques.
  5. Encouraging password strength and complexity: When changing passwords, it is an opportunity to ensure that the new passwords are strong, complex, and meet recommended security standards. Regularly updating passwords prompts you to create unique combinations of characters, numbers, and symbols, making them more resilient against various password-cracking methods, such as brute-force attacks or dictionary attacks.

To effectively manage regular password updates, consider using a password manager. Password managers can generate strong and unique passwords for each account, securely store them, and provide convenient features for updating passwords regularly without the burden of remembering them all.

5. Use a reliable password manager.

Using a reliable password manager is a critical component of effective online password management. It offers numerous benefits that enhance your security, convenience, and overall peace of mind. Here’s a more detailed explanation of the advantages of using a password manager:

  1. Enhanced password security: A password manager generates and stores strong, complex, and unique passwords for each of your online accounts. Since weak and easily guessable passwords are a common security vulnerability, a password manager helps protect against unauthorized access and potential data breaches. By using strong passwords that are unique to each account, you significantly reduce the risk of password-related attacks.
  2. Convenient password management: With a password manager, you no longer need to remember multiple complex passwords for different accounts. Instead, you only need to remember a single master password that grants you access to your password vault. The password manager then automatically fills in your login credentials whenever you visit a website or use an app, saving you time and eliminating the hassle of recalling numerous passwords.
  3. Secure password storage: Password managers use advanced encryption algorithms to store your passwords securely. The passwords are typically encrypted both on your device and during transmission, ensuring that even if the password vault is compromised, your passwords remain inaccessible to unauthorized individuals. Reliable password managers also employ other security measures, such as multi-factor authentication and data backup, to further protect your sensitive information.
  4. Cross-platform accessibility: Most password managers offer cross-platform support, allowing you to access your passwords across various devices and operating systems. Whether you’re using a computer, smartphone, or tablet, you can synchronize your password vault and easily retrieve your login credentials whenever and wherever you need them. This flexibility enhances convenience without sacrificing security.
  5. Password generation: A password manager can generate strong and random passwords on your behalf, taking the guesswork out of creating secure passwords. These generated passwords are typically a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, making them highly resistant to brute-force attacks and password cracking attempts. By relying on a password manager for password generation, you can ensure that your passwords meet the highest security standards.

When selecting a password manager, it’s essential to choose one from a reputable provider with a proven track record in security. Look for features such as strong encryption, multi-factor authentication, regular software updates, and a user-friendly interface. Additionally, consider the compatibility of the password manager with your devices and browsers to ensure a seamless experience.

LastPass

If you don’t have a password manager, LastPass is an excellent option for individuals and organisation. With their mobile apps and browser integration, they make it easy to manage your passwords safely.

Conclusion

In conclusion, practicing safe and effective online password management is crucial in today’s digital landscape. By following the tips mentioned, such as using strong and unique passwords for each account, enabling two-factor authentication whenever possible, avoiding personal information in passwords, regularly updating passwords, and utilizing a reliable password manager, individuals can significantly enhance their online security.

These measures help protect against common threats such as data breaches, password cracking attempts, phishing attacks, and unauthorized access to accounts. By prioritizing password security and implementing these best practices, users can better safeguard their digital identities, mitigate risks, and enjoy a safer online experience.

Last updated 26 Feb 2024

About the Author: Stephan

With 20 years of industry experience as a UX specialist, designer and developer, I enjoy teaching and sharing insights about UX, accessibility and best practices for e-commerce and the web.

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