As a bookkeeper, I deal with account security on a daily basis. Bookkeepers need and store hundreds of passwords. I get dozens of 2 factor authorization texts to my phone each week. I think I have seen most of the financial security systems used used online today. Security is a big part of my life.
What’s also a big part of my life is my desire to keep my clients’ data safe. The data in the financial accounts behind the financial security systems is supposed to stay private and not lead to financial or identity theft. How do I add to the account security I use every day to give the best possible security to my cleints?
1. Don’t Use An Obvious User Name
If you have a choice, don’t use your name or email address. That makes it a lot easier for hackers to guess parts of your online identity. Use two random words together, for example, like cheddar-binder or tabletree. These aren’t related to your real-life identity, and will make accessing your account harder.
One other thing not to do is create accounts or sign into new accounts using Google or Facebook or any other email or social media platform. “Sign in with Google” also means “share all your data with Google.” If that one sign-in or email address gets compromised (or if the companies decide to use your data internally), you’ve just compromised security for ALL your accounts.
2. Don’t Use an Obvious Password
Stay away from dictionary words (“dog”), and add characters, numbers, capital letters in various random combinations. Don’t use anyone’s birthday, or the current year or month. Those are obvious and easy guesses. Don’t use your children’s names or your spouse’s. Wondering what a good, strong password looks like? Check out this article from Lifewire.
Definitely don’t use “password” or “123456”. Using something that simple is asking for trouble, yet a surprising number of people them.
3. Use a Password Storage Application
The two best-known password storage apps are 1Password and LastPass. I use 1Password and don’t think I could manage without it. Using one of these apps is probably the best thing you can do for your online security. Password storage programs are great for two reasons: (a) remembering what your passwords are and (b) not getting your data stolen. I can’t say enough good things about 1Password’s features. I have used it for years across both Mac and Windows systems with all my clients.
What NOT to do: Don’t store your passwords in text files, in Word docs, in Excel sheets. Definitely don’t store them in Google Docs or Sheets. Too many people think that’s secure, and it’s not.
4. Use 2-Factor Authentication
Account security through 2-factor authentication is really important. Most websites have 2-factor authentication now, and many require it. If you’re not using it on ALL of your financial accounts, you should start immediately. That includes bank accounts, credit cards, bookkeeping software, investment accounts, and websites where you store credit card data. Social media accounts can also really benefit from 2-factor authorization lest someone break into your account and steal your username.
Many 2-factor authentication systems send a code to your mobile phone. Many websites also allow password apps like 1Password to generate authentication numbers for you. Less common is 2-factor authorization through sending a code to your email address. Any of them increases your security a lot.
5. Have Your Credentials Been Compromised?
Periodically, it’s a good idea to check to see if your email or accounts have run into a data breach and been compromised. You can do that here:
- ‘;–have i been pwned? This security website will search your email address to see if you’ve been compromised.
- 1Password has a feature called Watchtower built into it that will also check your accounts (anthing in 1Password) to tell you if there are any data breaches. The Watchtower web page also allows you to check websites to see if there’s been a data breach.
Account Security Basics
These five tips can up your security in a serious way by making it a lot harder for hackers to break into your accounts by figuring out what your username and passwords are. It’s easier to rely on a simple account names and password so you can remember them. However, the easier for it is for YOU to remember, the easier it is for hackers to figure out.
And don’t forget to check to see if there’s been a data breach that affects you. Knowledge is power!