Protecting Yourself Online.

Protecting Yourself Online.
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Diamond Garcia-Alvarez, Editor in Chief 2021-2022

Since 2020, we have all become accustomed to spending time online more than usual. This means our cybersecurity is becoming more important. Ensuring that your passwords are as secure as possible provides more security. With so much of our lives online from banking, e-mails, and healthcare, It is important to make sure your digital identity is secure. Taking the first step in protecting yourself is making sure your passwords are secure. Taking these steps will improve your security on the internet. 

 

Always Use a Different Password for Every Account.

 

Security experts generally recommend that you use strong, unique passwords for each of your online services and accounts. The reason being is that other accounts you use won’t be at risk if there’s a security breach. However, even if you come up with a highly complex password that is virtually impossible for anyone else to guess, the safety of your account to online services is at risk if you use that same password for each account. For example, if hackers gain access to the login details for one of the services that you use, they can then use that information to access any of your other online accounts where you have used the same credentials. Using a unique password for each account means that even in the event of a data breach in one of the services you use, your other accounts are not at risk.

 

Don’t Base Passwords That Pertain to You. 

Using passwords that identify you dramatically increases the likelihood of a security breach. For example, the street you live on, the school you attend, your birthday or anniversary, your pet’s name, your favorite food, etc. Using passwords that don’t pertain to you is one of the many steps you can take to protect yourself online. Regardless of your password doesn’t pertain to you, that doesn’t mean it’s virtually strong. No password is. 

 

Use a Passphrase. 

A passphrase is a string of unrelated words or characters that are typically longer than a standard 10-character password. In contrast to a password, a passphrase is longer than a password and contains spaces in between words. A passphrase can also contain symbols and does not have to be a proper sentence or grammatically correct. The main difference is that passwords do not have spaces while passphrases have spaces and are longer. Passphrases are easier to remember. It would be easier to remember. Additionally, most operating systems and applications support this method. 

 

The Longer, The Better. 

Key aspects of a standard strong password are length, a mix of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, symbols, no ties to your personal information, and no dictionary words. Passphrases are longer versions of passwords that may be easier to remember and harder to guess. If you opt to use a passphrase, some of the complexity requirements are relaxed. A passphrase must contain a minimum of 20 characters, a minimum of 2 character sets from letters, numbers, and special characters. DO NOT share your passwords with anyone else, or on websites, you do not trust. 

 

Use Two-Factor Authentication. 

Two-Factor Authentication is an authentication method in which a user is granted access to a website or application after successfully providing evidence to an authentication mechanism. Use Two-Factor Authentication for as many websites as possible. Two-Factor Authentication is an important security measure that adds a second layer of protection in addition to your password. Adding this additional security layer makes it much harder for hackers to break into your accounts. Make sure that you trust the application you enable this method of authentication on. One example is Google’s Authenticator app. You install the application, and after signing in, you will get a prompt on your phone that you use to verify it’s really you trying to sign in. Microsoft uses the same method for its services. 

 

25% of passwords used in the United States contain “qwerty” Being the first upper characters on a keyboard. Although it is easy to remember, it’s one of the first passwords that people will use to gain access to your account.  59% of Americans use their relative’s name and/or birthday. 22% of Americans will also use their own name. The most common password in the U.S. is “Password” followed by a string of numbers. Unfortunately now, no password is virtually impossible to guess. One way you can protect yourself is by also purchasing a physical security key. Such as a USB device. 

 

It’s obvious that we all have been relying on technology in order to communicate and complete our daily tasks. But we must be careful when visiting websites and registering for subscriptions. In doing so, we leave a trail. Follow these basic steps to prevent unauthorized access to your device. In most cases, I’ve talked about the importance of internet safety. Having the basic necessities doesn’t mean that you should stop monitoring applications and settings. It is important to keep your passwords and pins secure. Also, to prevent unauthorized access to your accounts, refer to the methods listed above. Although I’ve emphasized these methods several times, it is imperative that we all stay safe online and offline.