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Keeping Your Information Secure

 

It seems like a day rarely goes by where I am not learning something new. Many people would find this exhausting, but I love it. I will seek out opportunities to learn, anywhere that I can find knowledge easily. I am still often surprised at some of the statistics I read, though. For example, a recent article cited a report that found nearly 3 out of 4 people use the same password on multiple sites. Furthermore, the report also states that many of those haven’t been changed in over five years. There is, quite simply, a stunning lack of caring when it comes to online security.

Most people don’t think twice about locking their doors at night. It’s relatively easy to do; you just have to turn the back of doorknob. It works the same way with both your vehicles, you just have to tap a single button on a remote control, and they are secure. No matter whether you live in a dangerous neighborhood or not, you want the piece of mind that comes with security. Chances are pretty good that nothing will happen, but you can easily sleep better at night with everything locked up tight.

One day, you have a brilliant idea. You decide that carrying around five different keys is simply not efficient. You quickly call a locksmith and demand that all the doors in your house can be opened with the same key. The car should use the same key, you tell the locksmith, and your safety deposit box at the bank too. There are enough things you need to remember every single day, and which keys work with which locks doesn’t have to be one. After all, what are the chances that someone steals your keys from you? You go to work, and you come home.

 

Security Against Convenience

 

I’m no authority on airport security, but I bet that most of us have been frustrated with it during our travels. Dealing with those long lines, taking off your shoes, removing your laptop and making sure everything metal is out of your pockets is a big hassle. We all do it because we understand the potential risks if we don’t, though. Airport security is anything but a convenience. What airport security does do, though, is provide some degree of security in exchange for the loss of convenience. There are differing opinions on whether the give and take is worthwhile, but the rationale behind it is solid.

You wouldn’t change all your locks to work with one key or abolish airport security, would you? So, why would treat online security differently? Passwords protect nearly everything online now, from social media and email accounts to credit cards and sensitive documents. Remembering a single password is pretty easy, but if that password is stolen the thief can access every online account you own. They now have the ability to read all your emails, wreak havoc on your social media accounts, use your credit cards and more.

The criminal who stole your password quickly changes all your email addresses associated with each account. Then they change all the passwords so you can’t get in any longer. You no longer own these accounts even though you created them. Naturally, you will eventually get control back of things like your credit cards. How much time and stress will that involve, though? Would it not have been easier to have a different password for every site and save the extra hassle? Should a password be stolen, you only have one site to fix then, not all of them.

 

Strengthen Your Passwords

 

Remember that report I read back at the beginning of this article? One of the most concerning statistics was that nearly 40 percent of respondents said they had experienced a security issue in the last year. A security incident was defined as having an account hacked, a password stolen or were given notice that their personal information was compromised. Think about those numbers for a second and let them sink in. I am not offering up statistics for the last ten years or even the last five years. These are numbers from the past 365 days alone.

One of the biggest reasons so many people have ‘security incidents’ so frequently, is the strength of their passwords. If you are creating a password for a site and any portion of that password is designed to make it easier for you to remember, you are asking to be compromised. It’s like setting the alarm on the car, but not locking the doors. Things like your name, birthday, zip code, area code and address will all quickly be guessed by anyone who is making a concerted effort. You wouldn’t believe how many people use 123456 or password as their password.

 

Remembering Your Passwords

 

What most people don’t realize is that you can have security without sacrificing convenience, though. Password managers like the one we use, Dashlane, are quickly growing in popularity. A password manager allows you to use long, complicated and different passwords on every single account. You can then access these passwords by creating a single master password that you have to remember. Extensions for Google Chrome and other internet browsers allow you to automatically login and save time as well.

The main argument against using a password manager is that you still have a single password controlling access to all your other passwords. That’s why we also use two-factor authentication for our Dashlane account to further increase our security. If you aren’t familiar with that, it requires you to have two different methods to access an account. Your password is the first method, and the second is usually a random code available via text message, email or a specialized application. That means if your master password is stolen, they also need access to your phone to get into anything.

Unless you want to encourage people to access your private information, there is no excuse for using weak passwords anymore. Choosing to use easy passwords or similar passwords across multiple sites will catch up to you one day. Preparing for a future where security will only become more important is a big step forward for your own peace of mind.

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