Tips on keeping your passwords secure

What you think is good enough, may not be

How many passwords do you try to remember?

No matter how good you think yours is, not only do security experts say it probably isn't good enough, there's a good chance it's already for sale on the Internet.

The average person has 150 accounts online -- but uses just 12 passwords, and they re-use the same one at least 10 times.  

That's a problem because cybersecurity experts can use a program easily found on the internet to crack anyone's password. 

If they can, so can criminals.

On just one database, a former cyber intelligence expert found tens of thousands of names with their passwords to every account.

This is because of all those hacks in recent years: Equifax, Yahoo, big retailers, banks and credit card companies and we can't forget hacks at hospitals and insurance companies, too.

"It's really a question of when, not if, that each of us is going to suffer a form, or multiple forms of identity theft," said Adam Levin, chairman and founder of IDT911.

"The passwords, they are keys to the kingdom," said Paul Petefish, CEO of Evolve Security Academy. "The passwords guard our money, our savings accounts, our checking accounts, our credit card accounts."

So how do you keep them secure?

Use different passwords for each account.

Use long phrases -- like "I love to shop 2018."

Seven- or eight-character passwords are just no longer enough.

A demonstration showed after an eight-character password was entered, it took a hacker just 37 seconds to get it even though it was a completely random series of letters and numbers. The computer programs can try tens of billions of combinations that fast. 

"Computer hardware has reached a point where we're able to attack them so quickly that a password that small isn't practical anymore. Especially for incredibly sensitive things like financials, online banking," said Trustwave analyst Garret Picchioni.

And we should also use password vaults that keep passwords encrypted with multistep authentication: It's a code sent by text to your phone, which you unlock with your thumbprint.

One more tip: When websites ask for those security questions like your elementary school or the street you grew up on, experts recommend you lie.

Use information from your childhood friend or a cousin -- that way, cybercriminals can't find that information on your social media page and use it to get into other accounts, too.

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