If your birthday, your hometown, the number sequence 1234, or any phrase on this list are part of any of your online passwords, consider this piece a must-read. In recent years, more than a billion people have been the victim of cyberattacks, through both high-profile breaches of companies such as Target and eBay, and compromised individual accounts. Why do so many of us get hacked? Basically: The password sucks. There's a good reason Apple, Samsung, and other manufacturers have added fingerprint identification to their phones on top of a passcode. "It's not hard for attackers to crack a password," says Bob Lord, Yahoo's Chief Information Security Officer. On top of that, we make our own mistakes. "People use the same password from site to site and choose simple passwords," he says. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to better protect your info. Here's what you need to know to create a stronger, safer password.
Always opt for Two-Factor Identification.Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Instagram (among others) all offer two-factor authentication now. To use it, enter your password, and then a code is sent to you via text or email, which you then input before being granted access to your account. You usually don't need to do this every time — only from a new device, or when authentication expires after a few weeks.
This additional authentication is always a smart choice, Lord says, since it's unlikely hackers will have access to both your password information, and have your phone physically in their hand.