NEW YORK (AP) — With the recent news that a Russian hacker ring has amassed some 1.2 billion username and password combinations, it’s a good time to review ways to protect yourself online.
The hacking misdeeds were described in a New York Times story based on the findings of Hold Security, a Milwaukee firm that has a history of uncovering online security breaches.
One of the best things you can do is to make sure your new passwords are strong. Here are seven ways to fortify them:
Make your password long.
Use combinations of letters and numbers, upper and lower case and symbols such as the exclamation mark.
Avoid words that are in dictionaries, even if you add numbers and symbols.
Substitute characters. For instance, use the number zero instead of the letter O, or replace the S with a dollar sign.
Avoid easy-to-guess words, even if they aren’t in the dictionary.
Never reuse passwords on other accounts.
Some services such as Gmail even give you the option of using two passwords when you use a particular computer or device for the first time. If you have that feature turned on, the service will send a text message with a six-digit code to your phone when you try to use Gmail from an unrecognized device.