TLDR Version: Strong Passwords, LastPass, Two-Factor Authentication
Why is “Easy” in quotes? Because, lets be real. Easy is relative. Have you ever been hacked? Had your identity stolen? Had to start all over with a new Twitter account or email address? If not, then doing any more than you have to will probably seem like more hassle than it’s worth. But… if you’ve ever had any of these things happen (or the thought sends shivers down your spine), you know the sting of starting an all new digital identity.
Your first stop on the road to online security is us utilizing a strong password. So what is a strong password? Well first, lets take a look at what a weak password is.
Weak passwords typically have the following characteristics:
- Contains a dictionary word: baseball86, June1997, 1doctor1, happy!
- Contains an element of your name or someone close to you: $mith, DrB2002, D0raXplora
- Contains a common password (Link), like “1234” or “password”
- Has mostly letters or mostly numbers: John1, 1987y
- Are too short
So, for a strong password I’ll just show an example: 6D^3y!A>kpQU
You’ll notice it:
- No dictionary words or hints of a proper noun
- Does not contain a commonly used complex password
- Has a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols
- Is 12 Characters long
You’re thinking, “Great. But there’s no way I’m going to do that for the 300 sites and apps I have to log into every day.”
Well that brings us to the next stop: LastPass (or a functional equivalent). LastPass is a password management tool. Create an account, download the browser plug-in, and boom… Every time you log into a site it doesn’t have it’ll ask you if you want it added. Add it and now, as long as the plug-in is running and the site is compatible, it’ll fill in your username and password. No more having to look through your pile of sticky notes or open your spreadsheet of a thousand usernames and passwords. LastPass has a handy password generator (which I used to generate the above example). It has apps for IOS, OS X, Windows, and Linux. There are other password management tools out there (1Password and OS X Keychain to name a couple). Do a search or if you’d like us to do a review on one, let us know.
The last stop is Two-Factor Authentication, commonly referred to as 2FA. You may have seen an example of this if you’ve recently set up a new gmail or outlook.com address. The basics of 2FA work something like this: you take your existing account and add a trusted app or device to it. The next time you sign in, you use your username and password and the system sends a code to your trusted device. This code constantly changes, appears only on your trusted device, and is only used that one time. The thought is that even if someone has hacked your password they won’t have your trusted device. Neat huh?
So now the question is … how easy does all this seem and is it worth it? If you need any help just send us a message!
Valence Technologies is a Boulder based IT Services firm delivering consulting, project management, and support offerings to the Boulder / Denver metro area. We have a range of products targeted at managing business continuity, protecting your IT assets, and delegating your IT concerns so you can concentrate on managing and growing your business. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.