May 5th is known as World Password Day. It also serves as a great reminder for all to be safe when it comes to protecting yourself and your private information.

With more of our lives online than ever before, Syracuse University Professor Michael Fudge says people should take some key steps to protecting their identity and private information. Fudge, who is part of the SU’s School of Information Studies, says that there are two common mistakes people make when it comes to deciding on which password to use:

  1. using the same password for more than one account
  2. Using too simple of a password

“When you re-use the same password on multiple websites, if one of those websites gets compromised and an attacker gets a hold of that password, they can use that password to gain access to the other sites,” he says. “This is usually automated through an approach called credential stuffing.”

Instead of putting yourself at risk, Fudge urges everyone to get creative. The more characters in the password, the harder it is to guess, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why he suggests coming up with a lengthy password too.

Maintaining many different passwords can be hard to keep up with though, but there are simple ways that everyone can stay safe from online predators.

Using a password manager can help generate random passwords for you and store them securely. Some password managers will recall the password for you when you return to the site and this is a far better option than sticking with a generic password because it’s easy to remember.

For an added layer of protection, Fudge encourages everyone to enable two-factor authentication to protect your accounts. Two-factor authentication helps protect your account even if your account credentials are compromised.  

Ultimately, the ways in which attackers can attempt to obtain passwords are numerous and varied, but having a clear plan in place and staying on top of your security can be key to protecting yourself.