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Truly Difficult Passwords Are Heavy Armor Against The Digital Bad Guys
One of the most effective means of protection against online identity theft is the use of unique and difficult passwords for every website you join. The extra effort is well worth it. Yet, as easy as it is to put this proven practice to use, an extraordinary number of Americans simply refuse to take the steps necessary to protect themselves from modern day criminals lurking online. Don't be one of the millions who think it won't happen to you. Lackadaisical practices online increase the probability that your identity and possibly much more will be stolen.
Did you know that the most common password on Twitter is "123456"? There's no excuse for making it this easy for a hacker. A password like this is the digital equivalent of a bank safe left wide open for any passerby to enter. In other words, it’s something you'd never do in the real world. So, you should never do it in the virtual world either.
Even when a site requires you to create a seemingly difficult eight-character password with at least one capitalized letter, a numerical digit and special character like *, & or %, people still fall into the trap of repeating patterns. For instance, a common pattern will look like this: "Sports9?" and "Austin1!" According to LifeHacker, the use of the repeated patterns - initial cap, followed by five lowercase letters, a number and a special character, in that order - drastically reduces the time it tales for a hacker to break an encrypted password.
The best plan of action for online security is to use passwords that you cannot remember. To do this, we recommend a password manager that generates random, impossible to remember passwords and stores them inside the app for you. Some web browsers like Google's Chrome also have this feature built in. If you use Chrome to generate long password strings, copy the passwords to a spreadsheet or other document that you name something obscure and store in a folder, not on your desktop. This may seem odd, like you're putting all your passwords in one basket, which you are, but the net result is far greater online security.
Two other essential rules of thumb for online security: (1) Use a different password for every website, and (2) Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
Two-factor authentication, also known as two-step verification, requires that you verify your identity by receiving a text message with a code from the site in question, which you then use to gain access via a web browser. These two steps for online safety should be mandatory on the Internet. Until that day comes, you can wisely opt-in to two-factor authentication whenever it is available.
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