When you hear about security breaches in the news, are you like me and wish you could go off the grid? No online footprint to worry about. No passwords to remember. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in and, whether we like it or not, we have to be diligent with our information. Also, a world where none of our information was online would be extremely inconvenient.
We are not the security experts here, but as your financial institution, we do take protecting your information seriously, so for this Trust Tuesday, here are a few things you can do to keep your information secure.
1. Use Strong Passwords
You hear this from everyone, right? But what does “Strong” really mean? If it’s too strong, I’m just going to forget it or, worse, write it down somewhere. If I asked you to choose the strong password from these, which do you think is strong?
• I love going to the lake!
The first one is “Baseball” with some numbers and special characters replacing letters. If you said that the first one is stronger than the second, you would be wrong. Using letters, numbers and special characters is helpful, but the length of passwords has more to do with how quickly a hacker can crack a password than complexity. An 8-character password, like that first password, would take very little time to crack (think minutes to hours). The second password, which is known as a passphrase, is 25-characters when you include the spaces and would take a super-computer centuries to crack. Yes, you read that right – centuries, as in 100s of years. So, when you’re told to have a Strong password, think longer.
2. Keep Your Passwords Private
Cracking passwords using a computer is one way someone can get access to a password. Other ways include guessing your password, finding it written somewhere, or watching you type it in. These can be very easy to guard against as long as you make sure no one is watching you enter your password, you never write it down anywhere and you never tell anyone what it is. Financial institutions will never ask you for your online passwords, so if someone does claim to be from the Bank and asks for it, know that they are not who they say they are.
3. Utilize 2-factor Authentication Whenever Possible
We all have locks on our doors at home, similar to having a password to protect our accounts, but with a little time, someone can get through those locks. To better protect our homes, we can add security systems that will alert us if someone does get through a lock. That is what 2-factor Authentication means. It is another form of authentication that will help deter those trying to break in. These include security questions, finger or retina scans, or an email or a text that includes a code you need to enter. If your online accounts offer this feature, use it. Having more ways to protect your information is always better.