Six ways to avoid online password theft
Keep your passwords safe from theft with secure messaging
As Jason settled into the couch to binge Stranger Things with his roommates Tisha and Eric, he shot off a quick text to his mom: “Hey, can you send me your Netflix password, so we can use the account tonight?” He was shocked when the answer was no. His mom told him that their neighbor had gotten his bank account PIN stolen when he texted it to his wife, and they lost several thousand dollars from their account. “I can call you with the info in a few hours after I get out of my meeting,” she offered. Jason’s “Netflix + chill” just got put on ice.
Phishing, spoofing, and hacking are some of the most common ways that scammers can get their hands on account passwords and PIN numbers. But it’s not the only way. In all honesty, we do make it easy for them:
- We reuse our passwords a lot – 91% of survey respondents understood the risks of using the same passwords across multiple accounts―and 59% said they did it anyway (LastPass by LogMeIn)
- Millennials are sharing passwords with each other – 15% of younger adults aged 25 – 34 years use shared credentials (Reuters and Ipsos)
- Their parents are sharing, too – 8% of adults 35 and over use shared credentials―or share theirs with their kids (Reuters and Ipsos)
What’s the risk when you share personal passwords?
Although sharing passwords may be convenient, it can expose you to serious risks. When an unknown person or group gets hold of your passwords, they may gain access to personal financial information like credit cards, bank accounts, Social Security numbers, and more. Once they’re able to log into your accounts, thieves can easily change your passwords to lock you out while they do their dirty work.
And did you know that over half of all internet users re-use their passwords on multiple sites? If you’re a “password recycler” and a third party gets hold of your most common login info, they could instantly gain access to your finances and other sensitive information if they are all tied to the same credentials.
Change your account passwords every 3-6 months
to stay one step ahead of scammers
Gone Phishing: How the bad guys get their hands on your passwords
Phishing is one of the most common ways that scammers steal account login info. Using fake emails or texts and lookalike websites, clever thieves can make you think that you’re communicating with a trusted source or logging into a safe website. What you may be doing, though, is handing over your login information to strangers with bad intentions.
Weak passwords are low-hanging fruit for scam artists.
Your passwords can also fall into the wrong hands if you’re doing business online with a legitimate business that has poor encryption. Encryption is a method of scrambling data so only authorized parties can see it. When encryption is strong, it provides an excellent layer of protection against theft and misuse.
And if you’re using the passwords “QWERTY,” “12345,” or “password,” because they’re easy to remember, you’re just asking for trouble. Weak passwords are the low-hanging fruit for scam artists. Stronger passwords should include the following:
- 8 characters or more
- Uppercase letters
- Lowercase letters
- Symbols and/or punctuation
They may be harder to create and remember, but strong, unique passwords are your first line of defense against online financial predators.
CHECKLIST: Six things you can do to avoid password theft and misuse
- Never reuse passwords across multiple accounts
- Access your accounts directly by going to their websites; don’t click on email or text links that send you to sites asking you to re-enter your login information
- Develop strong, unique passwords for every account you use
- Don’t email or text your passwords―and never write them down on a notepad or sticky note
- If you do share account passwords with family or friends, always use a secure, encrypted messaging service that enables you to safely share your passwords—and erase them after transmittal
- Consider using a password manager to store passwords
If you’re not familiar with how password managers work, here’s a quick overview: Password managers are tools that store your passwords securely, and you only have to remember a single master password to get access. They automatically generate strong, unique, and random passwords for each of your accounts, and it’s easy to change or reset passwords whenever you need to.
Sharing passwords doesn’t have to end in disaster
Let’s face it: Everyone at some point shares a password with a friend, coworker, or family member. But losing control of even one password can put many (or even all) of your personal accounts at risk.
Using advanced secure technology, the Dust messenger provides a safe and encrypted way to share your passwords with anyone you choose. And Dust automatically destroys any trace of your information after it’s been sent!