The password is: Important

Written by on August 30, 2017

Don’t wait for a global Internet security risk to manage your passwords – tips to keep them safe, secure and smart

Even if you haven’t read a single story on it, you’ve probably heard a lot about the Heartbleed Bug.

Heartbleed affected several popular websites, social media and otherwise. In the simplest of terms, it’s a bug that can allow information and private data to be easily stolen. As changes were made to patch the problem, the advice was the same across the Internet: Change your passwords.

Good advice, but here’s some more: You shouldn’t wait for a major Internet vulnerability to think about protecting your social media accounts.

Here are things you can and should do regularly — or right now if you wish.

What’s your password? No, no, don’t tell me. But you should always be thinking about them. Creating a password in 2007 and not changing it for seven years is not a reason to brag. Update your accounts regularly with unique and complex passwords, preferably eight characters or more and containing a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols. Your password should not be 1-2-3-4-5, even if someone you know uses that combination for their luggage, and it should not spell any recognizable words or names. Make sure you put the password somewhere safe so you can remember it, and consider a password manager such as 1Password if that makes it easier for you to keep things in check.

Third-party apps, such as the ones on Twitter, can be troublemakers. This is when you grant access to another program to use your Twitter information, such as a website or iPhone app. We often click OK without giving it much thought, and after a while we have a giant list of possible problem areas. If you’ve ever been told that your Twitter account is sending out direct messages about weight loss, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You should check this list and check it often by going to the settings section at and clicking “apps.” Remove apps and add-ons you no longer use. The good news is you can always re-grant access later.

Privacy, please. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they prefer not to venture into the privacy settings area of Facebook, I’d be writing this from under a palm tree on a beach. While it’s true that Facebook offers a lot of settings and they seem daunting, they’re (mostly) all important. My general advice is to delve deep once every three months to make sure the old settings are the way you want them and you’re familiar with new ones. Start by clicking on that arrow in the upper right corner and selecting privacy settings.

Don’t take every email seriously. There are some pretty sophisticated phishing emails out there — the ones that tell you to change your password or else face the deactivation of your account. If you click on one of those and enter your credentials, you’ve likely just compromised your account, security and data. Make sure you know what’s real and what’s not, and don’t take any unnecessary risks if you aren’t sure. Always look at the URL before providing any information.

You’ll note a common theme in all of these tips: None are particularly difficult or time-consuming. Like making an appointment for a haircut, you just have to remind yourself to do it before things get out of control.

Article by Scott Kleinberg

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