Looking at the recent security breach at Yahoo and LinkedIn computer systems, this is high time we understand our responsibility too and take suitable actions to prevent any such infringement to the maximum. So, here we will talk about the most neglected but the first and the basic step to protect an online entity-our accounts, profile etc – Passwords. Often, we encounter this step with multiple sites, but owing to our lack of imagination, time and interest, we end up putting up a weak first layer of security or same password to many accounts. Now, this is entirely the user’s fault as it is highly possible that with the leakage of his one password, the other accounts will also be compromised. So, first of all, make sure you choose different passwords for each of your profiles on the web. Then, if possible avoid using public computers at places like Internet cafes or libraries etc. It’s better to not use at all, but if it is unavoidable, try not to use your bank accounts or perform any online transaction there. There is a possibility of a hidden Trojan that records such information promptly without even a hint. So, when you will get to know, much of the harm would have been caused.
Now of course, don’t leave your system unattended. Even if you are going out for a moment, it doesn’t harm to log off and then log in again. Make sure, you don’t have settings that store your passwords in the browser. You may not believe but many passwords are stolen or changed this way only. Don’t enter your passwords when someone is around. It’s the most easy way to note a password and you may be left wondering what happened even if you take all other precautions.
When it comes to choosing a password, be creative. Don’t go for usual words and specially avoid names and birthdates (your name, spouse’s name, children’s, pet’s name). Take some time to choose a longer password that consists of digits, special characters, capital letters. It has been seen that the attackers do not pursue the chase (avoid brute-force method) if they feel the time won’t be in their interest. So, go for at least 8 characters and use your best imagination. Most of the sites also present the strength of your password at the time of creation. Pay attention to the analyzer! If the results show it to be weak, try something more strong. Make sure, you don’t leave in haste after 2-3 tries as it’s for your best benefit only.
Keep changing your passwords after regular intervals and avoid reusing for at least a year. Some sites do notify about the change but if not keep a log for yourself. Also, if you are not good at remembering all your passwords and you want to write them all, don’t copy the exact passwords but write only some hints. Finally store it somewhere safe.
Protect your system from viruses, malware and keystroke loggers. Use a good anti-virus software and regularly update it. When using internet and need to supply the password, carefully check the validity of the website. It may be a phishing spam, so always use “https” links especially for bank transactions. Then avoid using an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. The information sent over the network is public visible and can easily be intercepted by anyone to hack your passwords.
Follow the above instructions and you are likely to succeed at securing your accounts yourself. Good luck!