Advice on Passwords for Safer Online Shopping

Written by April Weismann on 12/02/2020 01:05 PM in Homeowners Insurance,. Safety Tips,. Personal Insurance.

As more of our daily lives are intertwined online, it seems like a rising cost of time and sanity is devoted to keeping track of passwords. This daunting task may even want you to raise the white flag and resort to a super easy password you repeat on every site.  But don't give up!  Here are some helpful tools for password management and why it matters.

Why Your Passwords Matter for Online Shopping

Image of easy password

How Do Online Retailers Store Passwords?

Many on-line retailers will encrypt a user's password before storing it on their own server.  This means that even if hackers were to get to the password, they could not see the text that makes up the password.  This is a good thing and used by many websites, large and small, but not by all websites.

It is up to the business how much they are willing to invest in online security. As you can buy nearly anything, any time and anywhere in the world, it is up to you to do all you can to protect yourself and your financial security.

How Can a Criminal Crack Your Password?

If a criminal can access encrypted passwords, they can use sophisticated programs to quickly guess every combination of numbers, letters, and symbols until the password is revealed. Once they do this, they now have access to your personal information, like name, address, date-of-birth, credit card info, and any other sensitive information.  It can now be used to either charge your existing credit cards or set up new accounts in your name.  

How to Protect Yourself in an On-Line World?

One fundamental way to protect yourself on-line is to create unique and complex passwords.  Unique is vital because if each site you go to has a unique password, then you know your exposure is limited to that website, vs. throughout all the websites where you set up an account using the same information.

Another strategy is to create either long or complex passwords.  Some say you can use a favorite song, phrase, or quote, like "do as I say, not as I do," into password "DoasIsaynotasIdo."  You should also add a few numbers or characters for additional complexity.  This strategy can be helpful, but if you have a lot of passwords set up, it may be challenging to remember which song or quote goes to which website.

I prefer using a password manager on my phone and/or desktop.  This requires me to remember only one password (so the song lyric can come in handy here).  I like 1Password as it uses facial recognition to open the app and various ways to save the information you need quickly.  That said, there are many password managers out there, but nothing will be perfect as the criminals are always improving right along with us.

I think of on-line password security like running from a bear.  You don't have to be the fastest runner, just not the slowest.  If you take steps to make your passwords a little more difficult than the average person, chances are, you may escape danger.

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