If you’ve been keeping up with the news, then you know Russian criminals have stolen more than 1.2 billion usernames and passwords. Does this mean you were affected? Undoubtedly, but that doesn’t mean you’ve been compromised in other ways. If this is anything, it’s a lesson in keeping your password strong and changing it frequently.

The criminals at hand didn’t steal the passwords to get into your bank account; instead they’re using it to send spam for products like weight-loss pills, miracle drugs, phony subscriptions, and a whole mess of other fake products. Staying on your guard is something that you must do in order to counteract these acts of dishonesty. It is recommended that you change your password every 6 months, regardless of what it is: email, bank information, etc. Many companies have made it a point to have a mandatory change in password every three months. Every time you see a spam email simply delete it (but don’t open it!), or report it to your security admin if you’re at work.

This is an age where digital crimes are becoming easier to come by because we have become so lax in keeping the same passwords because just about everything we do relies on a password. To take from the Department of Defense’s Cyber Security office, “cyber security is all of our responsibilities” whether it’s just checking emails or checking out a sports site. Here are two ways to keep your password safe from would-be hackers:

1) It has been alluded to before in this blog, but simply change your password every so often. There is no time line (unless it’s required) to change passwords. A good rule of thumb is changing it every three months. The rationale behind this is so the algorithm associated with your password doesn’t get repeated too often. Every three months is also the general time frame where “new” cyber attacks tend to take place. Staying fresh with a new password is always a good defense. In the long run, it will bode well for your sites that are password protected. Let’s be honest, there’s a good possibility that we all have had the same password for at least one site that hasn’t been renewed in over a year. Now’s a good time to change.

2) Make sure your password isn’t easily hacked. Sure, this part sounds simple. However, it’s not as simple as you would think. A combination of letters, numbers, and special characters only go so far. That being said, it’s never a bad idea to have a sentence in mind for your password. Many work organizations set a minimum character limit for your password, but they don’t set limits on maximum length. If a sentence is what you want to do for your password, make sure you don’t repeat it constantly in everyday conversation. You never know who’s listening.
If one personal password is compromised, there’s a good chance some of your other passwords are too. Keeping up on security trends is important, but you can’t just assume that once you change your password you’re in the clear. Always be on your guard and make sure you’re protected from cyber hackers.