Secure Your Digital Life

September 29, 2016

digitallifeTaking time to learn how to stay safer and more secure in our ever-expanding digital lives is one step we can take to protect ourselves against cybercrime. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and throughout the month, ITS will share simple ways to help protect yourself, along with actions to take if you are impacted by a breach, cybercrime, or other online issues. Ready to secure your digital life?

4 Easy Steps to Help Secure Your Digital Life

STEP 1. Create strong passwords. You’ve heard it before, but using a unique, strong password for each of your accounts is still a really good way to keep your information safe. The key to a strong password is length. Your passwords should be at least 8 characters long and difficult for someone to guess. Avoid using personal information, especially if someone can find the answer on social media, or by searching your name online. In addition to length, secure passwords also use a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols.

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STEP 2. Use a different password for each online account. Using different passwords prevents having all your accounts compromised at once if a data breach occurs. Imagine if one key opened your front door, your car, your bank, and your safe. If someone got hold of your one key — poof — they have access to everything. Cyber criminals know people reuse passwords, and after a major password leak, they will try using those passwords and email addresses to get into all kinds of sites. Often, it works.

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STEP 3. Get a Password Manager. If you are having a hard time keeping all of your passwords straight or if you are still stuck using just one password for everything, consider using a password manager like LastPass, 1password, or Password Wallet. A good password manager safely stores all your passwords, remembers them, and can generate strong passwords for you. This makes it incredibly easy to use different, hard-to-remember passwords for every account, so you only have to remember the one master password to get in.

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STEP 4. Turn on multi-factor authentication. This is a biggy! Enable multi-factor (two-factor) authentication for the accounts you care about the most. In addition to having a strong password, it is one of the best things you can do to make sure your accounts don't get hacked. It adds a second layer of protection. 

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Think of it this way, it requires both "something you know" (like a password) and "something you have" (like your phone). After you enter your password, you'll get a second code sent to your phone, and only after you enter it will you get into your account.

  • At UCSC, you can start by enabling 2-Step Verification to your UCSC Gmail account: Instructions

To find accounts that you may use at home or at work that accept multi-factor authentication, visit: https://twofactorauth.org/

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Get motivated from Betty White

Get motivated with a password pep talk from Actress Betty White: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rierJ-3x_L0

Password Resources

UCSC Security Resources