If you haven’t heard the news, you probably should change your passwords. This is specially true if you’re a member of the professional social network LinkedIn or online dating site eHarmony. Each site had 6.5 million and 1.5 million passwords, respectively, stolen by an alleged singular hacker. This reminds us of the importance of protecting passwords throughout the Web.

I’m willing to bet that many of you are active members of a few password-protected websites (Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, et al), and I’m also willing to bet that a lot of you use the same password for all of your log-in information. If we’ve learned anything from the password breaches LinkedIn and eHarmony had to deal with this week, it’s that you should not only change your passwords regularly, but not have one password to rule them all.

Here are some simple tips on how to keep your passwords safe and secure:

  1. Do not have only one password. Use multiple passwords across the Internet. It’s pretty easy to hack into your Gmail account when it has the same password as your Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn account.
  2. Have complex passwords. This means using upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Also, try to avoid using common words or your name (or variations thereof).
  3. Keep your passwords more than eight characters. This is the standard minimum length most websites require, but it’s always a good idea to go above and beyond.
  4. If you store your passwords in a document on your computer, you might want to add a password to that specific file. That way, if someone gains access to your computer, they will not have an absolute treasure trove of private information. (Another good idea is to keep a physical copy of this document somewhere.)
  5. Use a random password generator for your log in information.

Aside from the personal information they protect, your passwords themselves are the most important thing to protect online. You can also use tools like The Password Meter to check the strength of your passwords and ensure they are difficult to crack.

How do you protect your passwords online?

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