5 Tips for Password Security

As an IT Technician for the Library District, it’s not uncommon for people to tell me their passwords without a second thought. It’s also not uncommon for them to tell me, "Oh yeah, it's the same password I use for everything," at which point my eyes pop out since I'm thinking...did you just give me your bank account password? While I appreciate the trust placed in me, it’s more important to secure your passwords and protect your identity online. Here are 5 tips to help you get started.

Tip 1: Don’t pick a weak password.
Your password should be at least 12 characters long, and be a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols that would be difficult to guess. Avoid incorporating information like your name or birth date, which makes it easier to figure out.

Tip 2: Don’t use the same password for different accounts.
As you probably know, many websites require you to create a username (usually your email address) and password. But what if a website's poor security leads to a breach? Now, hackers are using that same email and password combination on other websites to see if they can access other accounts you’ve created (see intro story).

Tip 3: Don’t share your passwords with anyone.
Even if you’re careful and keep your devices secure, it doesn’t mean your friend/co-worker/relative does.

Tip 4: Don’t save your passwords on Word, Google Docs, Wordpad, Windows Sticky Notes, etc.
These text files are not protected in any way. If a hacker gains access to your PC, one of the first things they will search for is the term "password" for filenames and the text within files.

Tip 5: Use a password manager program.
Store your passwords on a password manager program. While nothing is absolute, incorporating an additional layer of protection makes it that much harder for hackers. One way to do this is to upgrade from the free version of your favorite antivirus software to an Internet Security Antivirus as many of these come with password managers.

Need help researching what will work best for you? Check out these resources the library offers:

Consumer Reports
PC Magazine

Want to learn even more about security?

Take courses on Cybersecurity Awareness and Security Tips through LinkedIn Learning
Watch "Thinking about Cybersecurity: From Cyber Crime to Cyber Warfare," part of the Great Courses on Kanopy
Check out cybersecurity books on hoopla