OEC Blog

Amp up your password security with these very simple steps

Amp up your password security with these very simple steps

When many people describe “security,” it’s usually something physical you can touch or even buy. We think we are safe when we install the anti-virus that claims to catch 99% of known viruses. But when you really think about it, security isn’t really a thing –it’s a feeling or a sense of safety. And I guarantee you, no security software has the ability to keep you 100% safe from hackers. We humans are not perfect, and the technology we build isn’t perfect either.

What we can control is choosing secure best practices over convenience. The two biggest enemies of security are lack of awareness and ease-of-use. Sometimes we just don’t know any better, and other times we just don’t care. We don’t lock our phones because it is easier to just pick it up and use it. We share passwords because having to manage multiple accounts is too hard. We re-use passwords because we don’t want to remember multiple passwords. But these conveniences are what hackers thrive on. Why attack the hardware when you can attack a “soft” target, like people?

Not all of us understand technology, hacking, or security measures. We don’t always know how to keep our wireless devices secure, what clicking on an odd link can do, or understand what an error message is telling us. And unfortunately, there is no magical tool that can fix that, but there are precautions you can take to prevent security breaches and hacks.

The easiest fix to making you less vulnerable is improving your passwords with the following tips.

Length matters

Who can remember a 15-character password? Try this:

  • Start with something small and easy to remember: baseball
  • Choose a number: baseball16
  • Instead of thinking of longer words, pad your password with the same symbol or letter (You can even pad in different ways, 4 in front, 8 on the end. 10 up front, 2 on the end, etc.):
    • Add 5 *’s to the front: *****baseball16
    • Add 5 W’s to the end: *****baseball16WWWWW

This password is 20 characters, includes upper case, lower case, numbers, and symbols all by only adding two new characters. Secure? Yup!

Use a password manager

A password manager is software that stores and organizes your passwords.

  •  Less than $15/year in most cases (some good password managers are Lastpass, Dashlane, or StickyPassword)
  • Insert all your accounts with passwords into it
  • Let it create the most random passwords possible
  • You only have to remember 1 password in your life (the password for the manager), so make it strong!
    • The manager will autofill for you on any web application

If there is one thing that I hope you take away from this, it is to always err on the side of caution whenever you use technological tools. While nothing is 100% secure, you do have the ability to protect yourself or your business by making the doors hackers like to get through a little bit more difficult to open.