Five tips for #WorldPasswordDay

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When Under Armour announced the My Fitness Pal® data breach earlier this year, my first concern was the potential exposure of my exercise schedule, eating habits and, worst of all, weight.

Of course the real risk in any data breach is not potential embarrassment, but actual financial loss. In announcing the hack, Under Armour noted that user names, email addresses and hashed passwords had all been exposed.

These episodes remind us how vulnerable we are with so much of our private information stored on line.

In honor of #WorldPasswordDay, here are some tips to keep yourself and your accounts as safe as possible:

  1. When possible, use multi-factor authentication. This is one of the best ways to prevent hackers from accessing your information and it is well worth the slight inconvenience. This means chose a log in process that requires not only a password and username, but also a piece of information that only you would know. Another form of multi-factor authentication occurs when you are sent a code to input after you enter your password or login. You use multi-factor authentication each time you access your accounts through your debit card, as it requires the physical card, occasionally a chip and a pin number. It’s tempting to avoid these extra layers of security, but, if you take them seriously, they will add an extra level of protection to your account.
  2. Consider using a password manager, which will store, encrypt and create passwords for you. Then, all you need to remember is your master password (which you should protect with two-factor authentication).
  3. Do not share your passwords via text or email.
  4. Choose answers to security questions only you would know. Another trick is to choose the wrong answers to the security questions (as long as you remember what you answered). Choose an answer that is incorrect but related – instead of your mother’s maiden name, maybe use your mother in-law’s maiden name.
  5. Change your password immediately if you feel you have been hacked.

Take a few minutes today to review your passwords. You can find them stored on your browser or, if you have a Google account, you can access them here: https://passwords.google.com/.

Be mindful, but not overly reactionary, to the day’s news and pay close attention to your financial accounts. The sooner you recognize a breach, the easier it will be to limit the damage.

If you have any questions about the security of your accounts or have specific questions you’d like addressed, please call or email the office. We’d be glad to help.