Steps to protect your accounts from hackers

Steps to protect your accounts from hackers

(WWBT) - Do you worry about hackers getting into your email accounts, bank accounts, or social media sites? You should.

Experts say more than a billion passwords from data breaches have been dumped on the internet. One of the biggest problems is that many people reuse easy passwords on multiple sites.

Admit it. You use your pet's name, the words "football," "baseball," or even "letmein" as your password, right? Yep, experts say so does just about everyone else.

"Password, qwerty, 123456," The Computer Doctor's Kevin Boynton rattles off the most commonly used passwords.

Boynton says most people use combinations of the same three passwords on all their accounts. Once hackers crack one password, they can use programs to try variations of that word and break into them all.

"Now they can take that information and go into your bank account, they can go to your email account, other social media accounts," said Boynton. "And they get lucky a lot."

How do they get your passwords? Through email phishing scams and massive data breaches, such as the hits on Yahoo, Ebay, and Uber in recent years. And Boynton says clicking "yes" to have a browser remember your password is just making it easy for them.

"If hackers are able to remote into your computer, they can steal that information super easy," explains Boynton.

So how can you protect your accounts? Boynton recommends using software called a password manager.

"There's Last Pass, there's Dash Lane, a whole bunch of others, Key Pass," he said, naming just a few. Others include RoboForm, Sticky Password, Keeper, Zoho, ManageEngine, and 1Password.

It's software that ranges from free to about $40 a year. You set up one password to get into the program, then it generates complicated, different passwords for all of your accounts.

"You would never be able to remember them all, but it will remember for you," said Boynton.

And they're encrypted. So even if a hacker got the password to get into your password manager account, they can't guess all the complicated passwords it has created for you.

For example, explains Boynton, "Last Pass cannot reset your password. So if they can't do it, theoretically neither can bad guys if they get a hold of your encrypted data base."

If you don't use a password manager, Boynton suggests using multi-factor authentication on your password protected accounts. And he recommends choosing passwords that are long, complicated, have letters, numbers and symbols.

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