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How to Develop Good Password Management Habits

Teaching kids about passwords

Selecting an easy to remember password seems like a simple enough thing to do. But when it comes to protecting your online accounts, there are a few important things to consider before you lock in that special password that is all your own and unique to you.

Is your password secure enough? Are you using the same password across multiple accounts? What if someone hacks into a database and learns your password and email address?

Whether it be on social media, cloud backup or a password to your bank account, keeping track of passwords is a hassle. Still, passwords remain to be out first defense against an invasion of privacy that can affect our safety both on and offline. Until fingerprint technology or facial recognition becomes the norm, we all need to learn and develop good password management habits.

Learning Password Management at School

Password management can be an excellent point of discussion that is catered to students of any age that are already choosing their own passwords for their various social media accounts. Here are a few guidelines and tips that can also be used for parents at home, who in many cases are already helping their kids choose passwords for transparency at home and for online protection.

1. The importance of forming a strong password comes before anything else

Make sure your password contains capital letters, numbers, as well as special symbols. Also, do your best to make sure passwords are at least a certain length. These types of passwords may be difficult to remember immediately, so write them down and keep it on a piece of paper at home. Many online accounts save the password on your computer or smart phone app and it may be a while before you have to enter it in again.

If you fail to memorize your password and you didn’t write it down, you can create a new by clicking “forget password”, which will send a password resent link to your email.

2. The dangers of entering one’s password on a public computer

The problem with public computers is that you never know what might be lurking in the shadows. Unless you happen to be the administrator, which you probably aren’t. There might be all sorts of malware hidden in there, including the one that can spy on keystrokes.

Even assuming the computer is clean, there’s always a danger. After all, humans are on the forgetful side of the scale. In other words, your can easily forget to log out of your account and grant full control to the next random person who comes by. Not an ideal situation. Plus, you never know who’s standing behind your back when you enter your password in public.

When using your own phone or computer in a public place, be wary of logging into an account when connected to a public Wi-Fi that does not require users to identity themselves.

3. The problem of trading security for convenience and the reasons why it’s discouraged

Too many people fall into the convenience trap. They start reusing the same password across different websites for the sake of keeping things easy to remember. An additional way to increase security is to learn more about the importance of using a password manager. Thanks to its functionality, users keep the convenience of not having to remember too much. They enable creating different passwords for each account while only having to memorize the master password to access the rest.

Learning Password Management at Home

Often, kids can be more tech-savvy than their parents. But even as a parent you can take the initiative to protect your family with security basics, and beyond, that are often overlooked by those who feel they are already up-to-date on the latest in online safety.

Let’s also not forget that technology is always evolving. Hackers are continually coming up with new ways to gain unlawful access to private databases and accounts. What was good practice for protecting privacy two years ago may not be the best way to go about it today.

1. Remote data wiping technology

Even if you do everything right cybersecurity-wise, what’s stopping you from misplacing or losing your device? Many people tend to be forgetful. So, if you’re not sure where your phone is (especially if you suspect someone has snatched it right out of your pocket), deleting your data before it gets into the wrong hands is a wise course of action. Remote data wiping technology is an insurance policy in this regard.

If you have important information you want to save, you’ll want to set up some sort of online back-up to a cloud account. This way you can easily restore your device if you wipe it clean. Of course, make sure your online back-up account also has a strong password.

2. Two-factor authentication

Malware programs can steal your passwords right from under your nose. With two-factor authentication you can greatly increase protection of your accounts. Two-factor authentication asks anyone logging in to perform an extra step (like entering a PIN from a confirmation SMS) before granting access an account. It can restrict access in case of a data breach or stolen password.

3. Password variations that use the same core are a terrible idea

Never underestimate the creative mind of a hacker. If they can get close to guessing your second password based on another, it won’t take long before they succeed. Randomly generated passwords are a much better idea than different variations of the same password.

4. Personally identifiable information is a no-no

Let’s put it this way. The street where you live, as well as your birthday, are all facts that can be available to anyone. Anyone willing to go to great lengths to get them, that is. Therefore, you should avoid constructing passwords around publicly identifiable information.

5. The importance of changing your passwords often

Changing your passwords regularly is a good cybersecurity practice. But it also tends to be forgotten, especially when many accounts do not require changing your password regularly. Again, with a password manager, having to remember a whole new batch of passwords becomes a non-issue.

No matter your age or expertise, the creation of a good strong password is often taken for granted. Whether it’s a social media account, a website for online shopping, your online banking access – or an app on your phone, each one of your accounts is an online profile of you that’s worth protecting in as many ways that are available.

If you think a password you have used online has been compromised, it may be due to clicking a link in a phishing email.  Learn what you can do to protect yourself as well as how to report phishing when it happens to you.