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national-cyber-security-awareness-monthOctober is National Cyber Security Awareness Month—time to focus on safer ways to shop, search, socialize, and do everything else online. Throughout the month I’ll post articles to remind you of best practices for online activities.

This article reviews safe practices for password safety.

Choose strong passwords or passphrases

Your account is more secure because long passwords (15 or more characters) or passphrases are much harder to crack. Because they are also harder to remember, you may want to use a good password manager application to store them.

Change your passwords regularly

Changing your password every 3-6 months reduces the amount of time any set of credentials is vulnerable.

Choose password reset or account security questions carefully

Choose password reset or account security questions with answers that aren’t common knowledge and can’t be readily found in publicly accessible sources like social media. It’s harder for someone to hijack your account if the answers to your security questions really are secure.

Context is important

Don’t create passwords or security questions that closely relate to the sites where you use them. For example, on LinkedIn, don’t use passwords that contain strings like job, link, work, career, or profile. Your password and other information are less predictable, and therefore, more secure.

Don’t re-use IDs and passwords for multiple accounts

Wherever possible, each of your accounts should have a unique ID and password. That way, any compromise of one account or applications doesn’t also compromise other accounts. Critical services and information (like your online banking account) stay safer.

When in doubt, change your password

If it may have been compromised, change your password immediately. Change any other accounts that use the same password (though there shouldn’t be any!). The sooner you make the change, the less time you give an attacker to cause problems.

Don’t share passwords

Never tell anyone your password or let someone else use your account. This reduces the possibility of unauthorized people gaining access to information they aren’t entitled to see.

Report any suspicious or unusual activity

You not only help protect your account information, also become another layer of detection and defense for others. The power of thousands of security-aware individuals can make a critical difference in protecting people and information.

More tips and help:

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