With big data breaches in the news so often, we all want to do more to protect ourselves online. While it might feel like there’s nothing you can do that will help, there are several easy strategies to make yourself less vulnerable. It’s all about revealing as little about yourself as you can, and using whatever standard security features are available. With LastPass to help you, here’s how you can make yourself less vulnerable online.
1. Unique account, unique password.
While long, complex passwords are important, it’s equally important that each password you use is unique. No two accounts should ever use the same password.
A password generator can help you accomplish this. Like many password managers, LastPass has one built in. As you sign up for new sites, the password generator is on-hand to create a new password instantly. It also helps replace your old passwords with better ones. And the best part is, LastPass remembers all those generated passwords for you.
Unique passwords ensure that a breach at one website doesn’t result in a stolen account at another. Services like Gmail, PayPal, and Dropbox have reported hackers breaking into user accounts with usernames and passwords leaked in other breaches. With unique passwords, you’ll successfully stop these attempts.
2. Manage throwaway emails.
Many sites require a valid email address. But your email address is the gateway to the rest of your online life. For most of us, our email address is what we use to connect to our banking, our social networks, and countless other services. So our email account becomes the hub of our online life, and is often the primary target for hackers. Think of it this way: If you have access to an email account, you can use password resets at most sites to get into other accounts. That’s why you should protect your email account like your (online) life depends on it.
You may want to consider having multiple Gmail or Yahoo accounts that you use solely for promotional signups, or even consider using “throwaway” email accounts. Services like Mailinator let you generate email addresses so you don’t have to use your primary email address. If one of your “throwaway” email addresses starts to get too much spam, you can just cancel it and create a new one without interrupting the rest of your accounts. Again, because LastPass keeps track of which email address you used where, you get all the security benefits with much less hassle.
3. Give bogus answers to security questions.
You know those silly security questions companies ask you so you can “prove” who you are? Don’t give real answers. Use the password generator to create random answers that you can then store in LastPass. Just add it to the “notes” section for any website login stored in LastPass. Many answers to those security questions can be found via Internet searches or lurking on your social media accounts. Bogus answers ensure that someone can’t use the “account recovery” features to try to get into your accounts.
4. Fill data as needed, don’t store it.
It seems like websites want to know everything about you, from your contact information to your demographics to your personal preferences. While in theory it might make for a better shopping experience, the frequency of poor encryption practices also means that a lot of your data is at risk should a website suffer a data breach.
When possible, decline to store your information or credit card on a site. Create a LastPass Form Fill Profile, and just use the profile to fill your information as needed. Are you still trusting a website every time you submit data or make a transaction? Of course. But this at least ensures that less of your data is stored with a service and will help minimize the damage of a breach.
5. Close unused accounts.
Once you start storing passwords and website details in a password manager, it’s incredible how many accounts you accumulate. It’s easy to forget the one-off purchases, forum registrations, and the latest hot apps that all require an account. We all leave a trail of unused accounts from our online activities. Make a habit of reviewing your vault regularly, and close the accounts that you no longer use or need.
New to password management? Try LastPass today, it’s free!