It may feel like strings of letters, numbers and symbols are clogging our brains. However, there’s a reason that strong passwords are important—mainly because they protect your identity from thieves and hackers.
Website security is on the rise and most sites, from online banking to shopping, require a password before you can proceed to your accounts or make purchases. And this is a truly good thing. The tough part, though, can be remembering what password goes to what account and keeping those passwords private and secure.
It is generally recommended that passwords be changed once every six months, and this is usually a sufficient practice. However, if you’ve been the victim of identity theft or have recently had any of your online accounts or profiles compromised, it’s a good idea to change your passwords more frequently, at least every two months or so.
Because passwords are often stolen without the victim’s knowledge, the stolen passwords aren’t always used immediately. Instead, they’re collected and sold and left unused for a long period of time. If you change your passwords periodically, you can prevent a thief from having the opportunity to use them.
Some websites have passwords that expire, meaning that every 30, 60, 90 days and so on, you’re required to change your password to log on. While this is designed to be a proactive measure, many people make a common mistake that can actually make expiration a useless requirement. By changing just one letter, capitalization or number, (your name 1, your name 2 etc.) a thief has a good chance of guessing through sheer persistence.
Always change your passwords immediately after detecting a security breach, however due to current technology hackers actually have software that can guess predictable passwords. The most important way to protect yourself is to have strong passwords to begin with. By using a more complex and long string of letters, numbers and symbols and by not using the same password for every account, you are less likely to become a victim.