Here's How To Do Passwords Right, Right Now

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Keeping all your social media, email, and other online accounts safe and secure gets more complicated every day. Here are a few ways to keep your digital identity safe and secure.

1. Make your passwords random.

That means nothing that anyone who knows you well could guess - no names of children, pets, significant others (or the birthdays for any of the above), nothing related to where you live, favorite color, etc. Something totally random like "purple elephant" or "pink chocolate" with some numbers, random capitals, and special characters. Basically, you want it to be something long and not connected to anything about you personally.

2. Use a passphrase.

Having a passphrase instead of a password can keep things more secure, since it's longer and more complicated. So if the application allows for extra long passwords, "why did the purple elephant cross the road?" is better than just "purple elephant". And of course use numbers and special characters where you can.

3. Let your browser do the work.

Most browsers allow you to not only save passwords, but help you create them as well. For instance, if you're using a newer version of Safari and you see a key icon in the field for a password when you're creating an account somewhere, Safari will create and save a randomized secure password. Chrome offers similar tools and both will also rate the strength of your password.

One thing to note is that if you have your browser save your passwords and someone else has access to your computer, they can log into your accounts. There's also the potential to forget your actual passwords if you are not regularly typing them out to login in your various accounts, so make sure you have them recorded securely elsewhere or be prepared to regularly do the "forgot your password" renewal thing via email or text.

4. Use two-factor authentication.

When a site or app offers the option for two-factor password authentication, take it. Granted, it's not foolproof, but the extra step is worth it. And once your phone, tablet, or computer is recognized by the site or app, you won't need to take the extra step every time you log in.

5. Password managers are your friend.

Lastpass, 1Password, Keypass, Dashlane, and similar services can save you a lot of time and heartache by allowing you to create secure passwords and manage them all with one master password or PIN.

6. Close down dormant accounts.

You probably haven't logged into your old MySpace or LiveJournal in forever, and you probably have multiple accounts on other sites (ecommerce sites are the biggest culprits) that you don't use ever. So close them down! They can still be subject to a security breach and put you at risk.

Don't have your passwords in order? It's worth spending some time to protect your digital identity. Follow these tips and keep your info secure!