New Year, New Password: 5 Tips for Locking Down Your Logins in 2021

by Rebecca Barr | Jan 21, 2021 5:00:54 PM

New year, new you? How about new year, new password?

The turn of the calendar is a great time to bulk up your online security and refresh those old, stale login credentials.

Living in the digital age means we have an account for everything. Social media, grocery store apps, email, online banking, retailers – the list of passwords goes on and on.

If the wrong person gets ahold of just one of your passwords, though, it may offer access to them all. Admit it, most of us are guilty of using the same username and password across multiple accounts. But that convenience comes with risk. High risk. By repeating passwords, your exposure to getting hacked significantly increases. This happens through a method called “credential stuffing.” And it can be detrimental.

Con artists gain access to passwords all the time using a variety of tactics. One way is buying usernames and passwords in bulk on the dark web. They then take a large list of usernames and passwords and jam them into websites using an automated hacking tool.

They rely on the fact that most people use repetitive usernames and passwords across multiple accounts. That’s why it’s critical to practice good password safety:

  1. Use a “passphrase.” Instead of using a single word, use a passphrase. Your phrase should be relatively long (around 20 characters). Choose something you will remember but others could not come close to guessing.
  2. Make it strong. While it may be harder to remember, you should make your passwords with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
  3. Get creative. Running low on creative ideas for different passwords? Try using song lyrics. Not only is it basically impossible for hackers to guess what song you are using, it’s even harder for them to guess which lyrics you’re using.
  4. Opt for two-factor verification. It’s an extra layer of security that only allows user access after multiple steps are performed. This means just a password will not suffice.
  5. Stay vigilant. If you get a notification that your account information has been compromised or that a password was found in a data breach, act quickly. Change it as soon as possible and take note of what information could have been accessed.

For more information on protecting your online presence, visit bbb.org.

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