With new online scams emerging almost daily, Iowans are being encouraged to use a little of their extra time during the holiday break to brush up on their computer security precautions.
Consumer protection advocate Michael Domke says you should consider using a password manager on your computer and phone, instead of reusing old passwords.
“Humans are creatures of pattern,” Domke says. “With so many different sites and places that you go needing a password, it gets tough to remember all of them.”
Domke says it’s important to keep the password you use for your personal email account or cell phone as strong as possible and never use it for other apps or websites. One really good idea, he says, is to put your most important accounts — like your email, banking and credit card accounts — behind two-factor authentication.
“There are apps and other devices that can help you do that and make a little bit stronger and help protect your information,” he says. That way, even if someone can work out your password, your information will stay safe and you can be alerted to update your password.
He notes, even cursory knowledge about you could let people get past basic security questions. “Some of those that are generalized and asked nowadays, even close friends or family might be able to get some of those,” Domke says. “So pick a question that isn’t just easy for you to answer, make it hard for somebody else to answer.”
Making a password “strong” may involve having it be at least eight characters, with some upper and lower case letters, as well as numerals and symbols.