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How to Help Keep Your Online Passwords Safe

Password protection.

Identity theft and other data-related crimes continue to soar — and poor password protection is a serious vulnerability that hackers continue to exploit, as studies have shown that 63-percent of security breaches involved leveraging of "weak, stolen or default passwords."

Here 's what you need to know to help manage your log-in credentials safely and securely.

Don 't reuse the same password

While using the same password across multiple sites might make things simpler, it can be a serious security risk. Once those with malicious intent have the password to one site, they can access them all.

If you 're having trouble creating and managing a large number of passwords, you may wish to opt into Google 's Smart Lock -- an add-on to its Chrome Web browser that remembers your passwords and automatically logs you in (Apple 's Safari has a similar plugin). Just make sure your computer is also password protected because should you lose it, thieves would also be able to access these sites with relative ease.

Ensure you use strong passwords

The days of safely using your child’s or pet 's name as a password are long gone. Today, data thieves can use an automated technique called "brute force hacking" to unlock your password. This technique uses an algorithm that tries thousands or even millions of combinations until it strikes the right one.

Choosing a long and more complex password is your best bet. Use at least ten characters and a mix of letters and numbers, in both upper and lower cases. Also, make sure you avoid common keyboard combinations (such as QWERTY) or reverse spellings of common words. Hackers use software specially engineered to look for such patterns.

Enable two-factor authentication

Once you 've chosen a tough-to-crack password, pairing it with two-factor authentication will give you the gold standard in online security. You can start by downloading a two-factor authentication app (Google Authenticator and Authy are two of the most popular), and the app will provide you with a one-time code to use when logging into your accounts.

With this feature enabled, hackers should not be able to access your data even if they manage to steal your password.

Security questions matter even more

If you misplace your password, most sites will prompt you with a security question to answer in order to prove your identity. It 's important to choose a question that 's fairly difficult for a stranger to guess.

Questions such as "name the city where you were born" or "what is your mother 's maiden name" can be answered by hackers after a few minutes of online research. Opt for questions where information is not so readily available (the name of your kindergarten teacher, your favorite food or childhood friend, for example).

It 's always good practice to conduct a check-up on your password security, as passwords can be a common entry point for data breaches.

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ECC Monitor: OK