There’s only one entrance to the house: a steel door two feet thick. If someone from the outside touched the door—even with a battering ram—they’ll get an electric shock. No bad guys could get through, right?

2DWell, suppose the bad guy tricks the homeowner into opening the door…and once open, the bad guy strangles the homeowner. Do you see what happened? All that security is worthless if the homeowner can be tricked. And the same goes for passwords. You can have the longest, strongest, most gibberish password around…but if you allow yourself to be skunked by a hacker…it’s over.

Think you can’t get skunked? A hacker could post a link to a “video” claiming it’s Taylor Swift with a 50 pound weight gain—anything to get you to click—and you end up downloading a virus to your computer.

Or maybe you get suckered into giving your credit card number and the three-digit code on its back to some site to “re-verify your credentials” because your account has been “compromised” – says an e-mail supposedly from the company you have the account with. Instead it’s a phony e-mail sent by a hacker.

Security begins by not falling for these ruses but also by not having crummy passwords.

First ask yourself if it’s super easy to remember any of your passwords. If it is, chances are, they contain actual names of people…or pets…in your life. If you have your pet and its name plastered all over your Facebook page, for instance…a hacker will figure that your password contains the name.

Another way to easily remember—and type—passwords is to use keyboard sequences. Maybe you use the same password for 14 accounts: 123kupkake. Is this easy for a hacker to crack? Depending on the level of sophistication of the hacker and the tools he possess, maybe. Imagine a hacker cracking this with his software. He’ll get into all your accounts if you have the same password.

There are many password manager services out there to help you create a strong, long password, though randomly hitting keys on your keyboard will produce the same result. But the password manager will grant you a single password to get into all your accounts, sparing you the drudgery of having to remember 14 long passwords of jumbled characters.

Another layer of security is to try to only register with online accounts that have two-factor authentication. For instance, see if your bank offers this (many actually don’t). Two-factor makes it next to impossible for someone to hack into your account.

Strong and long passwords—all different for all of your accounts; a password manager; two-factor authentication; and what else? Don’t be suckered into giving up your private information!

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

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