If you Google “how safe is your password,” you will find more than one billion webpages dedicated to password protection. Near the top of the list is “How I would Hack your weak password”. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your password and your critical data protected.

Keep Business and Personal Separate. Don’t use your business email and password combination for personal use. Last month Zappos (owned by amazon) let their users know that their systems had been hacked and that customers’ email and password combinations may have been compromised. If Amazon can loose your password, think about how many other sites can as well. It is bad enough to compromise your personal data, but imagine exposing your internal systems at work. Keep business and pleasure protected so you don’t risk your business data in case your password and email combination fall into the wrong hands.

Change Your Password Regularly. Just like changing the batteries in your smoke detector, changing your password keeps you ahead of the game. While some say it is a hassle to change your password, it may protect you from someone who obtained your credentials without authorization. Employees who have left your company will also be challenged if they try to hack your systems.

Set a strong password. I know strong passwords may be hard to remember, but they are also hard for someone to hack. Use combinations of capital and lower case letters. Include numbers if possible and also other special characters if your system allows for this. Consider using numbers to replace letters in familiar words or include special keys instead of vowels (for example @ for a or ! for L). This may help you with that hard to r3m3mb3r password. After all, you don’t write them down, do you?

Protect against malware. There are malicous software programs (“malware” for short) that can get downloaded and installed on your devices. Unlike a virus that intends to reduce systems performance or corrupt and destroy data, malware may go undetected with the intent of capturing critical information such as credit card numbers and email /password combinations.

Some malware programs are designed to “phish” for your password. While logging in, malware may transmit your password without your knowledge. Make sure you block against the latest malware in addition to keeping your anti-virus definitions and operating systems patches up to date.

This is by no way a comprehensive list or guarantee to avoid getting hacked or having your password compromised. However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to password protection.

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