Many of you know May 5th as a single holiday celebration for Cinco de Mayo. However, there is another holiday on this very same day this year that deserves to be honored with just as much excitement, enthusiasm, and perhaps slightly less margaritas – World Password Day!
World Password Day is an annual event that takes place around the world on the first Thursday of every May and serves to raise awareness for the importance of strong passwords and best practices for online account security. Supported by hundreds of organizations, including the National Cyber Security Alliance, Intel, Microsoft and more, this year marks the fourth celebration of World Password Day.
Why World Password Day? The importance of strong password security may seem rather obvious to some of you. However, research shows that despite the rise in data breaches and well known consequences of account takeovers, poor password habits are still relatively common.
According to TeleSign's 2015 Consumer Account Security Report, 70% of consumers lack confidence that passwords can adequately protect their online accounts. And for good reason. Verizon's 2016 Data Breach Investigation Report showed that weak, default or stolen passwords were at the root of 63% of all data breaches in 2015. A big part of the problem lies in password reuse. A startling 73% of online accounts use duplicated passwords, which often leads to a “domino effect,” putting all accounts with the same password at risk when even just one account is breached.
What Can You Do? Beef up your passwords
The first step in ‘stepping up' your online account security is to strengthen your passwords. 123456 may be the most popular password of 2015, but that also makes it one of the weakest. Updating your passwords goes a long way towards protecting your digital accounts, and is something that should be done with regularity. An easy rule of thumb is to update your passwords every 90 days and make sure you are creating passwords that are long, strong and unique for every account. Intel and National Cyber Security Alliance have created some great social images to help you remember and share these important tips, which you can find at www.passwordday.org.
Consider a password manager
The second step recommended by many cybersecurity experts is to utilize a password manager. Password managers relieve the burden of having to memorize all the different, complex passwords you just created above, by managing them all in one “vault” and locking that vault with a single master password. There are many great password managers out there and PCWorld has a great list of four strong options to get your started.
Turn On 2FA
The third step, and perhaps the most important one, is to protect your passwords with two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a second layer of security that combines something you know (your password) with something you have (your mobile phone) to keep hackers out of your account even if they get ahold of your username and password. Many of the world's largest and most popular web platforms offer 2FA today, and you can find simple step-by-step instructions for how to turn it on here.
So there you have it. Following these three simple steps on World Password Day will help you step up your password game and better protect your digital life. Be sure to take action before it's too late, and don't forget to share these important tips and tricks with your friends and family. You can also learn more about this important holiday and get more tips by following along on Twitter with the hashtag #PasswordDay. You can also participate in a Twitter chat with @TeleSign, National Cyber Security Alliance, and many other top cybersecurity pros on Thursday, May 5th at 12pm PT, by following the hashtag #ChatSTC. Happy celebrating!