If this year brought nothing else, it offered the stark realization that Americans are quite vulnerable when it comes to their digital security. People who are lazy with their digital security are far more likely to be victims of identity theft, fraud, and financial losses.
The most important step to protecting your digital self is to begin using fresh non-portable passwords immediately.
Here’s how you do it:
- Create a 7-9 character root password with at least (1) capital, (1) number, (1) symbol and no personally identifiable information in it.
- Write down your root password in a safe place.
- When accessing a website, make a simple pattern you can count on that is taken from letters in each website’s URL that you are accessing. By modifying your root password based on the site you are accessing, it can only be used at each specific website. Then, if it’s stolen, it cannot be used to hack your other accounts around the web.
- For example, let’s say your root password is: WeLove2Kidz! and you want to access Yahoo.com more safely. You could use the first and last letters of “yahoo” to make your root passwords usable at Yahoo only.
- On Yahoo, the first and last letters are Y & O, so you just decide where you will insert them in your root password and stick with the same pattern on other sites, to make it easy to remember.
- Here is an example of a URL-modified password for the following 5 sites. In this example pattern, we add the first modifier after the “We” and the next one second to last.
- Yahoo.com – WeYLove2kidzO!
- Gmail.com – WeGLove2kidzL!
- BankofAmerica.com – WeBLove2kidzA!
- Wellsfargo.com – WeWLove2kidzO!
- Chase.com – WeCLove2kidzE!
It sounds complicated at first, but don’t worry, you’ll get much faster at using this method—with a little repetition. Remember, this is just one example pattern, you can change yours up any way you like. The most important thing is that your password is no longer portable.
Before you super geeks rip into me about how easy a simple pattern like this is to hack, you need to consider the best tool for the job. In this case — the best tool is the easiest one people can remember how to use, and one that stops most of the mass market hacks. Hackers and thieves prey on easy targets since there is no shortage of them. Non-portable passwords are usually not worth the trouble to hack.