Collins Community Credit Union

Protecting Yourself Online: Passwords

Passwords are like keys.  We all use keys every day to protect our most valuable items like our homes, our cars, our mailboxes, etc.  Passwords work in a similar fashion in which they lock and unlock our online information.  This is why it is important to follow some guidelines in order to better protect our information.

Published on Sep 26, 2023

When you hear someone talk about having a strong password, what they mean is having a password that it is not easily guessed or cracked.  In today’s age, it's important to know the components that make up a strong password.

Below are some tips on how to protect your information better:

  • NEVER SHARE YOUR PASSWORD!  The only person who should ever know your password is YOU.  Never give your password out to anyone or any company.  We will never ask you for your password and if you do get asked for your password, it most certainly is a scam.
  • Make them long – 15 characters minimum whenever possible.  The length of your password is the most important step of having a strong password.
  • Add complexity – Make sure to add at least one uppercase letter, a number, and a special character.  Here are some examples of special characters (!@#$%^&*).
  • Use spaces when allowed, for example, the password “I really Love Running al0t!” is much stronger then “Th8#4jPz”.   This is because mathematically it would take a significant time longer to crack a 27 character password then an 8 character password.  If you only counted 23 characters in my above password it is because we see spaces as blank or empty but to a computer a space is actually a character!  So the spaces actually make our password 27 characters long but also much easier to remember.
  • Do not use single dictionary words, people’s names, birthdays, keyboard patterns (qwerty), common phrases, and especially never use the word password or any variation.
  • Examples of bad passwords – ryan25!@,  Ryan1234, 123456, bmwDr1ver!,  P@55w0rd2016, password,  LivingOnaPrayer, mypassword1,  password1973 etc.  You can also do a quick google search on the most common used passwords and make sure your password isn’t on that list.

Do not reuse the same password for multiple sites - This is very important, VERY important. When a website gets breached and the usernames and passwords get released, hackers can use that same password to gain access to other websites.  One way people can fight this is to use what is called a password manager.  This is a program that allows you to better keep track of all those passwords.

Change your passwords frequently – Passwords at a minimum should be changed at least annually, but 90 days is recommended for websites that store sensitive information, like financial account information, tax information, credit card information, and email accounts. If someone malicious gains access to your email account they will use that access to reset other website passwords.  If you find out a website you use gets breached, for example, LinkedIn or Yahoo, you should change your password immediately on every website where you used that password to protect yourself from a possible compromise. 

There are more things we can do to better protect ourselves online, and it is always encouraged to research best practices or other approaches to keeping your information safe.


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