Password Security: 101

password securityRaise your hand if you have more than one computer. If you are reading this on your iPad or even your phone, then you should have a hand in the air. Every device with a microprocessor is a computer – that means your phone, your tablet, your laptop, and of course your desktop computer. With so many gadgets in our lives and most of them connected to the internet, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a high level of digital security. Today I will go over some of the more common preventative measures to protect your data and your identity.

Let’s start with the basic guidelines:

  • Change all of your passwords at least every 6 months

  • Never give your password to anyone else, though if you must, hand it over on a piece of paper so there is no unencrypted digital copy of it

  • Do not use dictionary words in your passwords

  • Always include numbers, capital and lowercase letters, and special characters in your passwords

  • Never open an e-mail from a sender you do not trust

Gmail 2-step Verification

First and foremost, your e-mail account needs to be hack-proof. Because your e-mail address is used to register all of your other online identities, an intruder gaining access to your e-mail will likely be able to gain access to nearly all of your other online accounts. If you are using Gmail, the first step you should take toward protecting yourself is enabling 2-step verification. This adds a second layer of security by having a code sent to you by text, voice call, or via a mobile app after you have entered your username and password. This ensures that while you are in possession of your phone, no one can access your Gmail account, even if they have your username and password.

Yahoo 2-step Verification

To enable 2-step verification for your Yahoo e-mail address, open your mailbox and click your profile picture at the top right. It is next to the gear and house icons. From the dropdown menu, click “Account info.” After entering your password, you will be taken to account settings. In the “Sign-In and Security” section, click “Set up your second sign-in verification.” Now click the checkbox. Select the phone number you wish to use or enter the phone number if one is not already present. That’s it!

As long as you follow the basic guidelines and have 2-step verification enabled for your e-mail, you will be about as safe as you can get. I didn’t get into safe browsing habits here, but many tips relating to browsing are common sense. Double check URLs before you click them and do not visit or download from websites you are not sure about, to name a few. You may also want to consider password protecting your phone and computer if there is a chance that you will leave your computer or phone unattended in a public place.