6 Ways to Make Your Passwords More Secure and Why You Should Do It Now

Passwords are important.Think of passwords like the lock on your front door. You may not need to lock it for safety, but you are definitely safer if you do. Passwords don’t have to be difficult, but why risk it?

In 2015, it was discovered that the database of the Houston Astros was hacked by the St. Louis Cardinals. They stole data on players and were eventually caught. They got in, allegedly, through a password used by a former Cardinal employee now with the Astros, possibly General Manager Jeff Lunhow. Passwords are important.

Every day, we read about website or server being hacked and the most common way they are infiltrated is through a weak password. Yet, the five most common passwords in 2016 are:

  • password
  • 123456
  • 12345678
  • 1234
  • qwerty

The good news is you can have much more secure passwords for all your logins quickly and easily. Follow a few steps.

Don’t repeat yourself.

It might be tempting to use the same or similar password repeatedly, but resist the urge. If your password is discovered, every account that uses it will be compromised. A client had that happen once and everything from his bank account to his Facebook profile were hacked, changed and data stolen.

Never use common words or numbers.

Birthdates, anniversaries and maiden names might be easy to remember, but that makes them easier to steal. It’s better, in fact, not to use any words at all, but rather sticking with completely random alternatives. Like…

Use mixed case, numbers and characters.

It isn’t enough to capitalize one letter and add a number and an exclamation point (sorry Password1! users). Complicated passwords are critical to keeping your data and identity safe, so don’t skimp. It might seem daunting to create complex passwords, but thankfully…

Use a random password generator.

There are loads of them online. Pick one and use it every time you need a new password. And don’t worry about remembering it, because…

Pay to store your passwords safely.

LastPass is one of best ways to securely protect all your passwords for $1 per month. In addition to their app, you can add their plugin to any browser and automatically fill in your usernames and passwords when you visit any website. You will have to remember ONE password — the master password for your account — but it beats having a notebook full of random passwords or sticky notes all over your computer. Plus, you can take this with you everywhere.

Change them once per year.

Set a date every year and change your passwords. Sure, it might take a couple hours, but it is worth it. If you don’t want to do them all, at least change your bank and any account that contains personal information you don’t want to share. You change your smoke detector batteries every six months (don’t you???) and that’s more complicated than this.