How to Beef Up Your Password Security

The vast majority of passwords are not secure enough, but tips can help you improve

By Melissa Pamer, Michelle Valles and Patrick Hickey Jr.
|  Friday, Jan 31, 2014  |  Updated 9:42 AM PDT
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How to Beef Up Your Password Security

More than 90 percent of user-generated passwords were vulnerable to hacking in 2013, according to a new report from consulting firm Deloitte.

Yahoo's announcement that usernames and passwords of some of its email customers have been stolen has left Yahoo's 273 million mail users wondering how safe their passwords are. The company did not disclose how many accounts have been affected. The news comes just a month after up to 110 million Target customers had either their personal information and credit card numbers compromised in a sophisticated cyber attack.

Here Are Some Tips to Ensure Your Email Account Isn't Hacked:

Did You Know?: More than 90 percent of user-generated passwords were vulnerable to hacking last year, according to a 2013 report from consulting firm Deloitte.

Employ a Longer Password: Experts and e-commerce sites long recommended that users have an eight-character password with mixed-case letters and at least one number and symbol. Such a password -– chosen from all 94 available characters on a standard keyboard – is one of 6.1 quadrillion possible combinations, according to Deloitte's report (PDF). Even 1-2 additional characters make hacking much more difficult.

Don't Get Lazy on Your Mobile Device: Mobile devices, such as phone and tablets and even gaming devices with Wi-Fi capability make people less likely to create complicated passwords because of the multiple screens often required to see all characters. Using familiar combinations and tricks to make passwords easier to remember, such as symbols and numbers that look similar to letters you'd use, often creates a safer password.

Don't Reuse Passwords: Password reuse among multiple sites is an even bigger problem, allowing hackers who've obtained one password to access other services protected by the same code.

Keep Your Password Stash Encrypted: Never keep your passwords in an unsecured place. Employ a password manager or password vault to create and remember all your passwords. Use an extremely strong password to access it, or employ multi-factor authentication.

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