If you are like President Skroob in Mel Brooks' Spaceballs (who had his luggage combination set to 12345), I highly suggest you change it. Fast.
According to Ars Technica, Gizmodo, and even the New York Times, 12345 has been in the top 5 of the most commonly used passwords for years. Do you know what's more common than 12345? 123456. Go figure. Other frequently used passwords that folks like to use are "password," "qwerty," "football," and "baseball." I seriously hope I haven't mentioned yours yet. It wouldn't take much for someone to guess these passwords and steal your information.
Even if you have a less common password, here are a few cyber security tips that I tell my technology tutoring clients:
1. Choose passwords that you can remember, but don't make sense to anyone else. Avoid words that are in the dictionary.
2. Add symbols and numbers to your passwords. A random series of letters, numbers, and symbols is usually best.
3. Change your passwords frequently. The longer a password has been in existence, the likelier it is to be hacked.
4. If you have a ton of passwords and can't remember them all, use one of the many apps that specialize in keeping/generating passwords. These apps only make you remember one password to access all of your other passwords.
5. When at a Starbucks or other places with a public wifi, unscrupulous hackers could capture your information if you offer it up freely. There are many ways to protect yourself while using the public wifi, but that's a conversation for another day. In the meantime, here's a basic precaution to take: don't log in to your bank account or other password protected sites on a public wifi.
I am by no means trying to be an alarmist. I also know that most people will read this and think, "Ugh! Why does it have to be so complicated?" It's the world we live in. We need usernames and passwords for just about everything. However, if you start with these 5 basic online security tips, you will be well on your way to enjoying your devices and keeping your information safe.
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