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5 Steps to Securing Your Personal Data Online

In my previous article I explained about how passwords are stored in cloud services. For the most part, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple, et al are doing their part to keep your information as safe and secure as possible. But it’s still up to you to make sure the passwords you use to secure your private data are safe and that you’re not making it easy for hackers. Hackers use dictionaries and extensive lists of passwords to try out against your account. Make it hard for them by following some simple cyber hygiene guidelines. So what can YOU do to be more secure?

5 Steps for Security Online: 

1 - Use Different Passwords for Different Web Services

That way if your Gmail password is ever compromised (somebody guessed your mother's maiden name and the street you grew up on) the hackers can't try your same credentials and get into your bank. This isn't hypothetical; there are many horror stories of this happening to people in real life.

2 - Make Your Passwords a Little More Complicated

Adding punctuation and numbers, or purposely misspelling words makes it impossible for a hacker to just use a computer program to try all the words in a dictionary. The best thing you can do, though, is to make your passwords looooonger. If you click on the image below you will see an animation that shows you how long it would take a computer to crack your password based on length alone. (If the animation doesn't start immediately, just wait a few seconds...)

3 - Change Your Passwords on a Schedule

Some IT departments and secure websites require you to change your password after a certain amount of time transpires. And they don't let you reuse old passwords, either. This may be a pain, but you don't have to worry about old passwords for some forgotten site letting someone into your banking information. I personally use a cross-platform password manager called 1Password which will let me know if I should refresh a password, or if Im using the same password on multiple sites, or if a web service has been known to have been hacked.

4 - Enable 2-Factor Authentication

This is one of the best things you can do, and all the big players online allow it, you just have to look for the settings to enable it. This means that your password is only half of the login process. After you punch in your password the website will confirm that it really is you, usually by texting a unique code to your mobile phone that you will also type in on the website. That code is generated on the fly and expires in just a few minutes. Now a hacker has to have both your password and immediate physical access to your cellphone.

5 - Put a Password on it

Put a password on your computer and smartphone, even if you're the only person who uses it. This is very easy to do, and makes it much harder to get hacked and have your identity stolen. 

Be Aware

You probably don't leave your house or vehicle unlocked with all your valuables in plain sight. You should treat your online accounts with same level of care, and it really doesn't take much effort. You don't have to be paranoid, just aware. According to the 2014 Verizon Data Breach Report, 9 out of 10 of all passwords currently in use can be found in a list of the top 1,000 passwords. Make yours unique!

If you would like help with connecting your Active Directory server to Office 365 with synchronized passwords, we have a team of wizards who specialize in Office 365 migration who would love to help. Get in touch!


Samuel O. Blowes, Director of IT
Samuel O. Blowes

Director of IT