According to the 2019 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research, the number of consumers who were victims of identity fraud fell to 14.4 million in 2018, down from a record high of 16.7 million in 2017. However, the out-of-pocket fraud costs for the victims more than doubled from 2016 to 2018, to $1.7 billion.*
Considering this, it’s not surprising that, for most of us, keeping our personal and financial information safe is top of mind. We’ve all heard about the dark web, as well as threats and security breaches at some of the largest companies in the world. The good news is, there are things you can do to secure your personal information that go beyond the basics of the desktop computer security, password keepers and virus protection. And, you don’t have to be an IT professional to take advantage of them.
The best defense is a layered defense. There should be no one, single point of failure in your security posture. For example, at home, you have locks on your doors, but a fence, gate and security system all provide additional deterrents to would-be thieves. The same can be said for information security. The more layers, the safer you are.
Modern computers can break an alpha-only password in minutes. Therefore, passwords should be complex, but also something you can remember without having to write it down. Generally, the longer the password, the more secure it is, but length alone is not enough. Including numbers and special characters into the password increases complexity and decreases the possibility of it being compromised. Something like: Tb8PT..3g7^74V!#dL2?
But, who wants to remember that?
A better way to create, and remember, a long password is to use a passphrase. A passphrase is a sequence of words or other text used to control access to a computer, its programs and data. A passphrase is like a password, but is longer, for added security. Something like 4$core@ndSevenYears@g02day. This passphrase is long and complex enough to frustrate both password-cracking tech and hackers, but is also easy for the user to remember. To create your own passphrase, follow these steps:
- Make the phrase meaningful to you.
- Make your passphrase 10 or more characters long.
- Substitute special characters and numbers for letters.
- Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters.
Should you find yourself unable to think of your own passphrase, there are passphrase-generators available, too. You can find these through a simple Google search.
By Mike Goforth; Woodstock resident and contributing writer who is an enterprise applications cloud technologist with a large enterprise software and technology provider, specializing in Saas Applications Cloud Security, operations and compliance.
* [“Facts + Statistics: Identity theft and cybercrime: The Scope of Identity Theft” Insurance Information Institute, www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-identity-theft-and-cybercrime.]