According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans choose to use weak passwords. Passwords with fewer than eight characters can be easier to remember, but they’re also easier to hack. While the old approach to creating secure passwords included using long and complicated passwords that users struggled to remember, the newest approaches to security protocols are easier and safer to use.
Keeping Accounts Secure
The world is hyper-connected in today’s tech-savvy world. With online banking, cloud storage, remote work, and mobile devices, security today require more than a great password. Fortunately, new technologies allow account holders to protect their sensitive information and prevent them from becoming victims to hackers. Here are some of the top authentification trends of 2021 and fresh techniques you can use to bring your password safety protocols up to today’s standards.
1. Revisit Your Approach to Passwords
Passwords aren’t the be-all and end-all of account protection, but they’re still important to keep accounts secure. Strong passwords of the past were hard to remember and included random numbers, letters, and special characters. These passwords were hard to remember, though, and led to unsafe password use, including using the same password at multiple sites and storing them in places where they could be easily found.
Those passwords can be a thing of the past, though, as newer studies suggest that more complex passwords are not better than less complex ones. Instead, try a long string of words or phrases used together that will be easy for you to remember but more difficult to hack.
If you still have more accounts and more passwords than you can keep track of, there are also programs you can use to keep your passwords safely stored. A password manager creates and stores your passwords for you. Not only are these computer-created passwords stronger than self-made passwords, but they never need to be written down or kept in a place that might be compromised.
2. Multi-factor Authentication
Many platforms offer multi-factor authentication (MFA). Before completing the log-on process, a second step is necessary to access your account. This can be a code sent to an associated email address or phone number or even a security question. If you can, take advantage of these multi-factor authentication opportunities. It’s an easy step that adds one layer of protection to your accounts.
As a benefit, if someone does try to log in to an account with the correct password, you will receive a notification to your phone or email that lets you know someone has your password information. This allows you to change your password before sensitive data has been lost and alerts you that other accounts you hold may also be compromised.
Not every platform offers MFA, though. Fortunately, there are apps designed to fill in this specific security gap. These can bring security to any account you hold, regardless of whether or not MFA is built into the platform.
3. Regularly Update Devices
The annoying update prompts from devices and software are more important than you might realize. Updates frequently include patches to strengthen weak areas that might be susceptible to hackers. If new versions of the software have been released and the old ones are no longer supported, you’ll also want to upgrade to the new system.
Obsolete software and devices are prime targets for hackers since the support teams are no longer releasing updates that will protect their vulnerabilities. Since cybersecurity technology evolves rapidly, these out-of-date products usually don’t feature the newest security techniques, leaving them vulnerable to breaches.
Additional Security Measures
Some basic security protocols can leave your accounts even better protected. The following measures will reduce the likelihood that your accounts will become compromised.
1. Use Trusted Networks
Whenever possible, work on a password-protected network you know and trust. These networks should have cybersecurity protocols in place, and only other protected devices should be allowed to use them. Remember, any poorly protected device using your network can allow a breach to happen — compromising every device on the network.
2. Install a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can provide protection for your devices even when you’re on the go and don’t have access to your regular network. VPNs can also be used on the network itself, protecting every device that uses the network. As more devices and appliances move to smart formats using the internet, there are more opportunities than ever for networks to become compromised.
Protecting individual devices and appliances — plus maintaining their updates — can be an incredible undertaking. Installing a VPN to a network can give complete protection. In addition to improved cybersecurity, a VPN gives you anonymity when using the internet and the option to connect to servers around the world. A free VPN trial can have you on the way to better cybersecurity in no time at all.
3. Prepare for the Worst
Avoiding security breaches altogether is the ultimate goal. However, it’s better to be over-prepared than underprepared. Have a plan ready if your accounts become compromised. Don’t forget to have a hard copy of your plan handy; in the event that the cyber breach includes the corruption of digital data, you want to make sure you have access to every step you need to make. Detailed information about every account you hold and the devices that use your network will help you reconfigure your accounts in a timely fashion and prevent unnecessary exposure of your personal data.
Equip Your Accounts with Protection Strong Enough for 2021
Technology has been making rapid advancements, and our cultural shift suggests there will only be more to come. Our devices are becoming more capable and more prevalent. Unfortunately, cyber-attacks are becoming more stealthy, and compromised accounts can quickly lead to devastating problems before a victim even realizes they’re at risk. Updating your approach to cybersecurity can reduce the risk of your accounts being successfully hacked — without compromising the fantastic convenience, and opportunity technology provide.