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Strengthen Passwords for Online Security

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Don’t risk giving valuable personal information to hackers.

You rely on computer access for just about everything – email, shopping, financial transactions and even following current events. All of these activities are performed on what we hope are secure connections.

Unfortunately, security breaches are becoming commonplace in today’s high-tech environment. While you may not be able to prevent a breach on another computer or sever, there are steps you can take to make information on your computer harder to access by a hacker. 

The best way to protect yourself is with strong passwords to access your accounts. The stronger the password, the more difficult it is for a hacker to access your information. Here are some tips and tricks to help you create passwords that are almost impossible to guess.

  • Make your password long. The more characters in your password, the more difficult it is to crack. Experts recommend at least 10 characters; 12 characters are ideal.
  • Use random letters, numbers and symbols. Consider a password that isn't a real word.
  • Intentionally misspell words or phrases to make passwords more difficult to crack.
  • Use different passwords for every online sign-in, otherwise, if an attacker discovers one, they’ll have access to all of your profiles and accounts.
  • Avoid the obvious like "abc123" and "password." Also don't use names of relatives, children, pets, etc.; these are options hackers try first.
  • If you write your password down, keep it in a secure place. A desk drawer at work doesn’t count.

Finally, change all passwords every few months. By changing your password regularly, you limit the window of opportunity for thieves.

Here are additional steps you can take to secure your online activity:

  • Operating systems are periodically updated to fix security gaps; be sure to install the updates to ensure your computer has the latest protection.
  • Install a firewall, which blocks communications to and from unauthorized sources.
  • Install and update anti-virus and anti-spyware software, which protect your computer from invasions that destroy data and slow down or crash systems. Such viruses can also allow spammers to send email from your account or track your online activities. Give your system a thorough scan at least twice a month.
  • Use caution with public Wi-Fi. Avoid accessing or sending sensitive personal information over public wireless networks, such as those at coffee shops, as they may not be secure.

With just a little work on your part, you can make your computer and online activity more secure and harder for the computer hacker to access. 

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