Online security is of great importance today. As the way we handle money becomes more and more internet-based, the dangers of getting your accounts hacked become all the more alarming. And one of the most vulnerable points of attack are your passwords.
Your passwords open the gateway to your finances online.
Most banks these days have online systems in place – websites, apps, and such – to make your transactions more convenient. Most of the time you don’t even have to go to your bank to get money. All you have to do is access your bank’s web page or mobile app to withdraw money, make payments, or send money to others.
But to access these online tools, you need to log in to your online bank account. The passwords you use in these accounts are critical. If they’re too easy to crack, you risk losing all your money. More so if you log in using unsecured WiFi networks.
Many people compromise their finances simply by using passwords that are too “obvious”.
Common culprits include these three mind-numbing passwords:
If you care at all about the security of your online bank accounts, stay away from those kinds of passwords. Using really easy ones such as those is like leaving the keys to your house right under the doormat. It’s the oldest trick in the book. Thieves can just easily figure it out; they don’t even have to look that hard for it. In the same way, hackers can just keep “trying” these obvious password combinations until they get the right one. Similarly, they don’t even have to think too hard.
Personal information is also not a good idea.
This would include stuff like your birthday, phone number, relatives’ names, and anything along those lines. Other people also know this information, and that in itself is a danger. The moment anyone else knows your password – even your most trusted friends or family members – your money is immediately at risk. Only you – and no one else but you – must know about it.
Instead, use passwords that cannot be guessed easily. These are combinations of small letters, capital letters, numbers, and punctuation.
It’s up to you to devise a system for creating your passwords. For example, it could be a phrase with an intentionally misspelt word. Also, you could substitute numbers for letters, like using zero instead of the letter ‘o’, or the number 1 instead of the small letter L. Make the phrase a memorable one as well, so you won’t forget it.
But of course, don’t use the same password for everything!
If you have more than one online financial account, for example, then by no means should you use the same password for all of them. Obviously you don’t want to use the same password for your email or Facebook account as well. Just imagine what would happen if your Facebook account gets hacked: Your money will be in danger too.
Having many different passwords for each online account you have can be proper confusing though. Writing them down may be a good idea, but in the long term it’s still putting unnecessary risk to your accounts. What if someone finds that list of passwords? Again, your money will be in danger.
If you have a whole lot of online accounts to take care of, there is a solution though.
Get a password manager.
This allows you to store all of your passwords in a sort of virtual vault. Your passwords there are secure, and you can only access them through a “master password”. This is the “key” that unlocks your password vault. So whenever you have to log in to an account, you just need to input your master password, and the password manager will take care of relaying your username and password into the login page.
Since the password manager takes care of all your login details, all you need to remember is the master password. It’s a lot easier, and safer too, since you don’t have to write down a list of your passwords. Not even the maker of the password manager has access to your password vault, because they don’t know your master password.
Password managers have another useful feature too. They can generate very secure passwords for you. These aren’t your typical “memorable” ones. Instead, they’re nothing but random combinations of letters, numbers, and punctuation, making them impossible for any human to guess. But don’t worry; you don’t have to memorise them yourself. The password manager stores that in its virtual vault, and all you have to remember is still the master password.
You can find many password managers in the web, but personally I recommend LastPass. It’s free for personal use, and it integrates well with web browsers. It syncs your password vault to the cloud as well, so you can access it from any computer. It even has mobile apps so you can access your password vault on your phone or tablet. Another great thing is that recently, LastPass made its mobile apps free as well (before, you needed to pay $12 a year to access your vault on mobile).
Again, it’s best to be safe. If you value your money, you should also value your passwords in the same way.
If all of this tinkering with passwords stresses you out, don’t worry. This video shows you two things you can do to relieve that stress.
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