By Casey Kulinski

Welcome to the first article of Technically Speaking. In this ongoing segment, I will be sharing tips and tricks to help you navigate all things tech. To kick it off, here are some tips regarding something most of us use every day: passwords.

Think about it … You wouldn’t leave your front door unlocked or leave the keys in your car after you park, so why would you leave your computer open to potential intruders?

How many times a day do you put in a password? Once, twice, maybe multiple times? With more and more of our lives organized and stored online, we have to work that much harder to keep the information secure. One of the simplest ways to make sure it is secure is to create a good password.

Even with increased hacking activity today, surprisingly “123456” and “password” continue to top the list for the worst (and yet, most frequently used) passwords. It only takes sophisticated hackers minutes or even seconds to decipher a rookie password.

If you are among the majority, you are probably using the same password for each site and adding an exclamation point or a dollar sign at the end to mix it up, thinking that will suffice. Now, advanced programs can recognize these patterns, so as online users we need to step up our game. While the topic seems rather bleak and you may be thinking, “I’m never going on the internet again,” there are some simple tips you can use to ward off hackers.

  • Don’t use patterns, as they are easier for hackers to figure out (ex. 123123123).
  • Don’t use common sports and pop culture terms or the name of the website/app you are using.
  • Use different passwords for different sites.
  • Use passwords that are at least eight letters long with mixed character types (capitals, special characters, numbers).
  • Use short words with spaces/characters separating them (ex. Sun_Candy_Radio).
  • Use a two-factor authentication if possible, where a code can be sent to your mobile device to log in.
  • Change your passwords often (around every three months).
  • Do not save your passwords to your computer or keep yourself logged in. Enter your passwords manually every time.

It is also important to make sure your computer has a good anti-virus program to protect you from unwanted files and viruses while adding another layer of protection.

Do yourself a favor next time you’re signing in: Take a second look at those passwords using these tips.

Credit: SplashData, USA Today

Casey Kulinski is the digital media content coordinator at WKBT News 8.

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