You Shall Not Pass: An Introductory Guide to Password Protection
By Small Screen Producer. Publish on December 9, 2013.
In the wake of the recent large-scale password hack that left over 2 million users' passwords exposed, many businesses may be looking into investing in more secure password generation and storage techniques. Why is this just now happening?
As details emerge about this weeks hack, it is easy to feel relieved as one of the 'survivors' who emerged with password security intact, but it is really just a matter of time until the next group of hackers or sophisticated pieces of technology come up with a new way to break in. All these problems could of course be solved with abstinence, but in this digitally-immersed world this is ofter much easier said than done.
With the help of a few of our favorite memes (we still love them, even if Facebook doesn't), we've created this step-by-step guide to making your online existence just a little bit safer:
1. Take the time to create some top-notch passwords
Creating passwords can be tricky, but don't fall into the trap of using your mother's maiden name, your high school mascot, or your 14-year-old cat's nickname as a password. Trust us,
you're not the first one to run into a problem when trying to create a password that meets the increasingly harsh number/letter/character restrictions. Lucky for you, there are machines that solely to create super crazy passwords that will stump even the stealthiest of hackers. Completely customizable, these free generation engines can create the perfect password for you in a matter of seconds. A cursory search pulled these popular options, but let us know your favorite by dropping a line in the comment section below!
2. Keep those passwords under lock and key
Once you've taken the time to create some super secret passwords, don't put them just anyplace. The list of non-approved password storage places includes: your memory, your hand, random scraps of paper on your desk. While it may seem a bit counterintuitive, we suggest keeping your password in a safe place online.
Many of the companies that offer a free password generator have password management tools that are free of charge as well. For those "you get what you pay for" people out there, there are several programs that charge a nominal yearly or monthly fee as well. For a full run-down of the different password management options, check out this article from InformationWeek, or this one from PCMag.
3. Don't use the same password for multiple important accounts
For many of us, our first instinct when we hear about an online breach of security is to run through a mental catalog of online accounts that we have to see if we're at risk. If you don't have an account with the particular company that was hacked, say Adobe for example, you must be safe, right? WRONG.
As in the case with Adobe, often times passwords are linked to multiple accounts. Maybe you don't have an Adobe.com account, but you have an account with a company that Adobe is connected with, so they have your email address and password for that account in their database. While the hacker would come up empty handed when trying to use this to tap into your Adobe.com account (bummer, for the hacker that is), he can run the email and password combination through a myriad of other websites. If you have used the same password on those accounts, JACKPOT!
The good news is that websites have gotten smarter security features these days that lock users out after a certain number of attempts, usually 3-5. The better news? This whole fiasco is entirely preventable if you make the conscious effort to use different passwords for different accounts.
So go forth, young digital masters and mavens. Equipped with these steadfast best practices for password protection, you can be the master of your own (online) domain.
Kyley is an Account Executive at Small Screen Producer, and a proud graduate of the University of Houston Bauer College of Business Honors program. With a BBA in Marketing, Kyley has worked with a variety of companies in the Houston area, including the Houston Symphony and Houston Grand Opera. Her time at Small Screen Producer has helped her to become a digital marketing gladiator who conquers a variety of online obstacles and challenges each and every day.
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