Securing and Protecting Your Digital Future Through Passwords

We are always told to change our passwords. It’s become a type of second nature in the digital age- or at least it should be by now. The notion of changing passwords frequently has been pounded into our heads to a point where it becomes exhausting and a type of rebellion against authority to not comply. (or some people simply do not care and do not believe that it matters) But what does not complying with this tech advice actually result in? You and your data are at extreme risk, making it matter so much more than initially digested. The common mistake is waiting too long to take preventative measures, i.e waiting for the cyber attack to happen to you. Measures can be taken now to prevent data from being stolen.

Data is more valuable than we have been led to believe. Just how valuable? Every thing from our faces to our conversations are scrapped and sold to advertisers. 

The offline and the online are gradually merging.  Protect your online identity like its your offline one. You wouldn’t leave your house unlocked.

How to be a Responsible Internet User:

  1. Make a list of all your internet accounts – On a personal note, this one was relatively easy for me, especially because I had all of my passwords stored in my Google Account before I took these steps. I simply obtained the master list and deleted the accounts that I no longer have a use for. If you do not have a list of your online accounts stored anywhere, try to remember and write down as many as you can.
  1. Delete the ones no longer needed - Doing this enables the user to have a better understanding and control over what information has been utilized from accounts that are no longer needed. There’s no point for them to exist if they are not being utilized.
  1. Make an offline list on pen and paper of all your remaining identities – Write down each username and password. This will give you a structure for your new password list that will be created.
  1. Create secure passwords for each one or use a password manager (below) – Toss out the old, common passwords that you are used to. Each secure password should be a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Every password should be unique.
  1. Write down the account information again, this time in two separate notebooks – This is your official username and password document, which should be treated as extremely sensitive and important. Store safely. 
  1. Set up two factor authentication (at least for the most important and sensitive accounts) – 2FA is needed more than ever in this digital age. The utilization of 2FA adds an extra layer of protection if someone is trying to break into your account. For example, anytime someone logs into my Amazon account, I receive a text asking me to enter a code to confirm that the account should be rightfully accessed. A more in depth article highlighting the importance of 2FA will be written in the coming weeks. 
  1. Add each new account created to this list – Keeping up with newly created accounts is important. Documenting new information as soon as possible is crucial in order to keep your master list up to date.

A password manager can also be utilized. This is a way to store your passwords on your device securely with one master password. Strong passwords are generated, which saves human time and effort. However, having one master password can be dangerous, since the knowledge of it can grant access to an array of information on the user. Use password managers with caution, just like how you should make an offline master list with caution. These lists of sensitive information grow in relevance daily as our offline and online worlds collide. It’s time to take the essential steps to securing yourself online by organizing and varying your passwords in a smart way that achieves the base level password standards that have come to be set in 2020.