Fayetteville Free Library
The BUZZ around the FFL … “What can I do to protect myself with all these big companies having data stolen?”
While companies continue to experience data breaches and work to prevent future data theft, it is important to know what we as individuals can do to reduce the risk that a data breach becomes a major security risk for our personal accounts. Below, we will cover steps you can take to help protect yourself.
The first step any individual can take to protect their accounts and personal information is to use unique passwords for every account. With the number of accounts needed in everyday life, it is common for people to use the same password for most of their accounts. However, this also makes it easier for data thieves to access many of your accounts if they manage to steal information for one account.
One issue that arises with using unique passwords for every account is how to remember all the passwords. Writing down all the passwords in a safe place is one option. The biggest issues with writing them all down are if the list is lost or if you need the passwords but do not have the list. Another option is to use a password manager.
Password managers come in several forms with a variety of features. The most basic function of a password manager is to store and protect your passwords for your various accounts. Using a password manager allows you to remember one password (the one for the password manager) but still use unique passwords for all your accounts. Additional features that some password managers offer are a password generator, the ability to share your password with others, and tools to help you determine if you have good passwords.
Another step is to use two-factor authentication (2FA) on accounts where this feature is available. 2FA is the use of additional information to help prevent unauthorized access. One basic form of 2FA is to answer a question in addition to using your password. If you use a close friend or relative’s information to answer these questions it can decrease the chance of anyone guessing your answers. Another common form of 2FA is to enter a code that is sent to your phone. 2FA is becoming increasingly common as passwords are seen as vulnerable to theft.
The last step we will mention here is to change the password to your accounts regularly. It is best to change the password to most accounts at least once every year. This helps prevent thieves from being able to access your accounts. Also, you should change your password if you suspect someone may have accessed your accounts or if you have an account with a company that has a data breach.
For more information or assistance on this and more, visit the Fayetteville Free Library in person or online at FFLIB.org
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.