You may be seeing emails from websites across the internet recently asking you to reset your password. This is mainly down to a few of the big social networking sites being breached a few years ago.
A few years ago? I hear you ask. Yes, the problem is that the people who breached these sites have been sitting on the passwords and user information that they downloaded until very recently. Now, they’ve decided to cash in, and the account lists are being sold to the highest bidder.
This is obviously very bad news for you and I, who have accounts smattered all across the internet which may be included in these lists. Never fear however, as I’ve got 5 simple ways for you to keep safe.
1. Change all of your passwords.
Sounds simple enough, but to be sure that the information that these malicious users may be obtaining from these lists becomes outdated, you should change all of your passwords to longer, computer generated passwords.
2. Use a Password Manager
A Password Manager is a piece of software which saves, generates, auto-fills and manages your Passwords. These are extremely useful, and while it may seem a bit silly to put all of your passwords in one place, these tools are extremely secure.
As I mentioned, these Applications can automatically generate your passwords, so you don’t even need to know what they are. It will then save that automatically generated secure password, and the next time you need to log in, it will automatically populate the log-in form with the password it has stored. Easy.
Examples of these applications are LastPass(LINK), and 1Password(LINK). I’ve used both, and highly recommend either.
3. Turn on Two Step Verification
You may have seen this offered on sites such as Google, Twitter and Facebook. Two Step Verification or Two Factor Authentication is essential for being secure online. It works by adding a secondary piece of information, such as your Mobile Phone number to your account. A unique code is then sent to your secondary device (in this example, your Mobile Phone) and you enter that on the website in order to log in.
This means that even if your password is compromised, the malicious users cannot get into your accounts without your secondary authentication device (usually your Mobile Phone). As you can see, while this may seem like a bit of extra effort just to log into your email, it’s better than the alternatives of being compromised.
4. Do not re-use passwords. Ever!
This may sound like a no-brainer, but it is still surprising how many people re-use the same password for their Email, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
It’s just a massive no-no. You should never re-use a password on two different sites. This means that if one password is compromised, your other accounts are still secure. The last thing you want is for someone to be able to get into your online banking simply because they were able to guess your Twitter password.
- Change your passwords
- Use a Password Manager
- Turn on 2 Step Verification
- Don’t re-use passwords.
A password management application should help with every tip on this list, so you shouldn’t need to do too much to simply make yourself secure online.