Did you know that identity theft takes place every 14 seconds? The result of identity theft may be a damaged credit score, tax debt, a criminal record, and lost time and money to the victim.

If you want to protect yourself from identity theft, one of the first things you should do is create strong passwords for all of your online accounts. This article will show you how.

Use longer passwords

Even though most websites insist on having at least eight characters in a password, longer passwords are better. The longer the password, the harder it is for identity thieves to hack it. So an 18-character password is more robust than an eight-character password.

A recent study revealed that a hacker could crack an eight-character password in as little as eight hours. And anything shorter can be cracked in seconds. The study also showed that an 18-character password with unique symbols, letters, and numbers could take as much as 438 trillion years to be cracked by an average hacker.

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Use two-factor authentication

If identity thieves stole your password, you could still stop them from accessing your accounts through two-factor authentication. This security feature requires one to enter a second piece of information before accessing an account.

Let’s say you’re logging into your Gmail account for the first time on a new laptop. Gmail will send a code to your email on your trusted device, like your smartphone. This code alerts you that someone is trying to log in to your account using a laptop at a specific location. You must use the code as the second piece of information to log in to your Gmail account on the new laptop.

Two-factor authentication ensures that even if a hacker cracks your password, they cannot access your information. They still need the code sent to your trusted device.

Since most verification codes get sent via text message, you may still fall victim to identity thieves. For example, some hackers can steal your phone to get the verification codes. They may also access the codes through Sim Swap fraud. Sim swap fraud is when someone steals your number and assumes your identity. A better way to receive verification codes is through authentication apps like Authy and Google Authenticator.

Consider using a password manager

Strong passwords are difficult to memorize. They contain unique symbols, numbers, and letters. You cannot remember each password, especially if you use a different one for every online account. That’s where a password manager comes in.

A password manager is a tool that creates and stores passwords for you. So you can have different passwords for different sites without memorizing them. With a password manager, you can generate long passwords that are difficult to guess. You can also securely store many passwords and responses to security questions. All you need to memorize is a single master password that gives access to the password manager app on your phone or desktop.

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Avoid using personal information in your passwords

People who find you online can guess your password if you use personal information such as your family name or home address.

Avoid obvious combinations such as yourname1, yournamexyz, your mother’s maiden name, and phone number combinations. Simply put, avoid using personal information in your passwords.  

Stop using the same password across different accounts

Many prefer using the same password for different accounts to avoid forgetting their credentials. While this may sound like a great idea, it is a security disaster. If identity thieves finally crack your password, they’ll have access to all of your accounts. In turn, you’ll be susceptible to damaged credit, a criminal record, and even loss of money.

Create a unique password for each online site you log in to. This way, hackers may only access one account at a time if they are successful. Use a password manager to help you store these long and unique passwords if you cannot memorize them. 

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Use unique characters in your passwords 

Strong passwords contain different types of characters, such as uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. This way, your passwords are protected from dictionary attacks and brute-force attacks. Using common words makes your passwords vulnerable to all sorts of attacks.

Conclusion

Good passwords protect you from the effects of identity theft, such as tax debt and a damaged credit score. Some ways to make strong passwords include using two-factor authentication and unique characters in your passwords. You can also use a password manager to create and store long passwords for different accounts.

Author

Ruby has been a writer and author for a while, and her content appears all across the tech world, from within ReadWrite, BusinessMagazine, ThriveGlobal, etc.

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