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Posted on June 12, 2014 by in Data Breach & Technology, Identity & Privacy, Personal

It seems that the more personal online accounts I get, the more challenging it is to manage them. I know that ideally I should change my passwords every three months and I have my iPhone set with reminders, but it’s getting harder to come up with so many new password combinations. Still, it is really important to keep passwords protected. Here’s what you need to know about how passwords are compromised and how you can keep yours safe:

Don’t Make it Personal

Many hackers will devise ways to run through likely passwords for your accounts using personal information such as your birthdate or social security number. About 20% of Internet users feature personal details like a significant date or a pet’s name in their password. Don’t fall into this group. Choose a password with no personal significance.

Be Original

Dictionary-based attacks simply run through a dictionary of words to try to guess your password. If you’re using one or more simple words––English or otherwise–– there’s an excellent chance that this type of attack will succeed on your account. A massive 91% of passwords are so unoriginal that they feature in the top 1,000 most common passwords on the Internet.

Don’t use any known word in your password. If you want to incorporate a memorable phrase, swap out letters for numbers and characters, such as a “3” for an “E” or “!” for an “i.”

Go Phish

Phishing scams send out emails that look like legitimate communications from known companies, such as your bank. The emails include a link that’ll typically prompt you to log in to the site. Clicking on that link takes you to a “decoy” website. If you enter your information on the decoy site the scammers record your login name and password.

In the first half of 2013, more than 40% of phishing attacks targeted banks. You can protect yourself from these attacks by staying alert to this type of scam. Never follow a link in an email to a site that asks for your password.

Secure Your Connection

Unsecured connections put your passwords and other personal data at risk. A whopping 86% of Internet users don’t check for a secure connection before accessing sensitive information. Add the fact that 41% use the same password for multiple accounts and hackers have a gold mine of information to steal from unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Never enter a password on an unsecured network of any kind.

Stay Safe

Stay safe by making it a priority to change your passwords often. Another way to keep your identity safe is to enroll in an enhanced identity theft protection product like IdentityForce’s UltraSecure. With UltraSecure your personal information will be monitored 24/7 and you’ll be notified immediately of any suspicious activity so you can act before any damage is done. If anything does happen, IdentityForce will be with you every step of the way helping you restore your identity.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Marc Falardeau.