Three Ways to Protect Yourself Online

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Over 90% of data breaches in 2022 were cyberattacks, and the number only seems to be growing. In today’s digital-driven world, protecting your personal and professional information should be part of your online routine. But knowing how to identify suspicious activity is only half the battle.

Cement your protective routine with these three easy ways to avoid being vulnerable to hackers.

1. Set Reminders for Routine Data Checks

Simply assuming that your information is safe won’t cut it these days.

Instead, use free tools like Have I Been Pwned to check whether any of your accounts have been compromised by a breach that exposed data to the public. You can then respond with their suggested actions such as changing your passwords and using multi-factor authentication (MFA).

The site also allows you to set up breach notifications, so you will know right away if any of your accounts are compromised down the line.

2. Create Smarter and Stronger Passwords

If you use the same password for every account or use different variations of that password, you’re an easy target for hackers.

The most secure passwords are long, unique, and easy to remember. A password like “123qwe890iop” is not as random as you might think because the keys are close to each other on your keyboard. In fact, the site warns “123qwe890iop” could be hacked in just five hours.

That’s why many security centers are starting to recommend passphrases as a more secure way to protect your account. They differ from passwords in that they make use of a random phrase or series of unrelated words. The key to a strong passphrase is one that is easy to remember, but difficult to guess. A mix of letters, numbers, and symbols might be more difficult for hackers, but also harder to remember. Passphrases should be over 14 characters long, and you should avoid using popular sayings, lyrics, or quotes. For example, the passphrase “ShopaholicButNotActually” would take 52,000 years to crack. But make sure to come up with your own – don’t use any examples from articles.

Struggling to recall every single username and password? That’s where a password manager can be helpful. This tool acts as a digital vault for your passwords on a secure, encrypted server – and is accessible through browsers and apps – so you can avoid manually saving your information on something unsecure, like a sticky note or a notepad app. This way, you only have to remember the username and password for your password manager.

3. Keep Your Accounts Secure With MFA

Establishing your online data security is about working smarter, not harder. That’s where multi-factor authentication (MFA) comes in.

Whether you use passwords or passphrases to lock your accounts, it’s important to add MFA as an additional barricade. MFA requires users to present at least two types of identity authentication. This verification comes in convenient forms such as codes via text message, authenticator apps, and fingerprint or face ID. These roadblocks are key if your password becomes compromised, as it’s much more difficult for a hacker to get past the second authentication barrier.

Make sure to use MFA on your password manager, and on all your accounts or apps with MFA available, to make hacking harder for cybercriminals. It is especially important that you protect your financial information by setting up MFA for your bank logins and apps. This tool should be a key part of your defense against data breaches.

The Bottom Line

Creating a routine of online data protection takes a little commitment but can be simplified with reminders and free tools. Cybercriminals are only getting smarter, but luckily so are we. Take advantage of today’s knowledge to better defend yourself against cyber threats and enjoy peace of mind. For more information and tips on how to protect yourself online, visit our Security Center.

3 Ways to Protect Yourself Online

This blog post was published by Axos Bank on March 1, 2023 and last updated on March 1, 2023.

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