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COVID Terms, Pet Names, And Other Password Mistakes

A survey of 750 Americans conducted by Security.org found that 14 percent are using coronavirus-related terms in their passwords.

The annual report on password strategies stated that passwords often include topical issues. In addition to COVID-19, the U.S. presidential election is another hot topic, with around 10 percent using candidate names.

Individuals also often use personal data when creating passwords. According to the survey, 16 percent of Americans use their birth year and the same number use their pet's name in their passwords. Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead "14% of Americans Using COVID in Online Passwords, New Survey Reveals" smallbiztrends.com (Oct. 25, 2020).

Commentary

Your passwords should be sufficiently long and include a mix of numbers, letters, and special characters. Do not use words that can be found in a dictionary or in other information hackers could easily discover, such as your birthday or your pet’s name, by looking at your social media pages. 

If a website informs you that your password may have been stolen in a data breach, immediately change your password. If you use that password for any other accounts (which is a bad practice), change it on those accounts as well. Using unique passwords protects your other accounts in case one is breached.

Passwords are your first line of defense, but it’s best to have other layers of defense as well. That’s where two-factor authentication comes in, as it gives you an added layer of security in case your password is stolen. Enable two-factor authentication on your accounts whenever it is available.

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