They’ve been dubbed the digital generation, but research indicates that millennials’ cybersecurity instincts can often be just as poor as those of their elders.
The latest evidence of this trend comes from a new survey conducted in Britain, which — the BBC reports — found that 52 percent of respondents aged 18-25 are using the same password across multiple accounts.
The reason for this is understandable. Most people have dozens of online accounts, and — barring those select few who have photographic memories — they cannot be expected to remember them all.
However, the risks of reusing passwords are enormous, and they will only increase as people live more of their lives in the digital world — and companies continue to fall prey to data breaches stemming from subpar corporate security policies.
These risks are particularly untenable for people who do not choose unique passwords for their email accounts, as your email account often serves as a portal into the rest of your internet activities.
“Your email account is really a treasure trove of information that hackers won’t hesitate to exploit,” said Det Insp Mick Dodge, national cyber-protect co-ordinator with the City of London police in a statement.
The solution to this problem is installing a password manager and adopting two-factor authentication (2FA). A good password manager will generate strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts and store them in an encrypted file so that you can seamlessly access them when needed — often at the click of a button.
2FA, meanwhile, allows you to add an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring you to enter a special code — sent to a separate device — before you can finish logging into an account. Though some services offer text message-based 2FA, most security experts caution against using this method. Instead, check if your account providers support an app-based 2FA system such as Authy or Google Authenticator.
And while you’re cleaning up your digital hygiene, you should install a VPN to protect your web browsing data — including your passwords — from snoopers. A good VPN will encrypt your data when in transit so that unauthorized individuals cannot capture it and read it. However, not all VPNs are created equal. It’s important to choose a VPN provider who will not track you and keep logs of your browsing data. Private Internet Access has never logged customer data — and it never will.
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To learn more about staying safe online, read our Best Security Practices guide.