You can take two high-impact steps to protect your online accounts – set a long, unique password and use multi-factor authentication (or ‘two-factor authentication’). It’s not as hard as you think.
- Install password management software (or a ‘password vault’) and store your passwords there. You’ll use a single, long-but-memorable passphrase to access the vault but you won’t have to remember so many passwords. That makes it easy to set good ones.
- Don’t re-use your passwords. If you do, change them so each is unique – and don’t use an easy-to-guess pattern. Hackers who steal your password from any website will try it everywhere – if it’s the same, they’ll take over all of your accounts. With a password vault, it’s easy to use unique passwords – and you can make them longer, too, which makes it harder for hackers to guess them.
- Enable two-factor authentication – a code on your mobile device or in a one-time text message – for any account that offers it. Use it for banking and social media and email and everywhere else.
If you have a lot of accounts, it could take some time to set better passwords and turn on two-factor authentication. Make the effort to protect yourself and your family.