Password Hygiene and 2FA:  A Spooky Halloween Tale
In the chilling shadows of the digital realm, there are phantoms waiting to pounce on your every move. Just like in our favorite Halloween tales, where vampires, zombies, and ghouls lurk around every corner, the online world has its own set of monsters: hackers, phishers, and identity thieves. But fear not! By practicing good password hygiene and enabling two-factor authentication (2FA), you can protect your digital treasure from these menacing creatures.

  1. Craft a Witch’s Brew of a Password
    A weak password is like leaving your haunted house’s door wide open for monsters to enter. Crafting a strong, unique password is akin to having a potent witch’s brew that keeps evil at bay. Here’s how you brew that magic potion:
  • Length: Like the long, eerie corridors of a haunted mansion, your password should be lengthy – at least 14 characters.
  • Complexity: Mix it up! Just as a witch adds spiders, newt tails, and dragon scales into her cauldron, combine uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols in your password. Use a password generator or multiple words to create a “passphrase” – and never use personal information (family/team/pet names and dates of birthdays, anniversaries, phone numbers)
  • Avoid Predictability: Avoid using easily guessable passwords like “password123” or “ilovehalloween”. Don’t use your favorite team names, celebrities, or places. A crafty ghoul will guess these in no time.
  1. Don’t Use the Same Spell Everywhere
    Relying on the same enchantment everywhere is a dangerous game. If a werewolf discovers the magic word (password) you use for one crypt (site), he can access all others! Use a different incantation (password) for every site.  Passwords don’t have to be “broken into” or guessed – they are most commonly stolen in large data breaches like shopping sites, so using unique passwords means less is at risk.
  1. Enlist a Magical Assistant – Password Managers
    Remembering a multitude of spells (passwords) can be a daunting task. A password manager is like your own magical spellbook, storing and retrieving incantations for you.  A password manager is your best tool and time-saver.  Not only does it create unique, secure passwords and safely store them for you, but it will enter them into the websites you authenticate to.  Even better, they can store and enter your Two-Factor Temporary One-Time Passwords (TOTP) codes you typically save in Google/Microsoft Authenticator and have to look up and manually type.  A password manager means you only need to remember one powerful master spell (password).  Choose a master password that is something you’ll easily remember, created using multiple words and totaling 15+ characters.  Remember to protect your master account with Two-Factor Authentication.
  1. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) – The Protective Ward
    Imagine if, after unlocking the ancient tomb (your account), a challenger was met with a ghostly guardian asking for a secret phrase. That’s 2FA! It requires a second form of identification beyond just a password. This could be a text message code, an authenticator app (preferred – and most password managers can be this too!), or a hardware token. It’s like having a moat filled with snapping crocodiles around your castle.
  1. Beware of Digital Ghosts – Phishing Attacks
    Sometimes, specters (hackers) masquerade as friendly spirits, luring you into giving away your secrets. These are phishing attempts and the second most cause of password compromise. Even if you receive a message from ‘Dracula’ himself asking for your password or 2FA code, don’t give in! Legitimate services will never ask you for this information directly.  Phishing emails the are the most commonly successful attack method so be wary of these fiendish phantoms.
  1. Regularly Consult the Oracle – Check Account Activity
    Periodically review your account logs and your password manager. Most password managers will advise you if you have weak or duplicate passwords and most also monitor the Dark Web for you, notifying you if your credentials are stolen.  If you see any mysterious or unexpected activity, it could be a sign that goblins have been snooping around. Act fast, change your passwords, and ensure 2FA is enabled.

Just as you would arm yourself with garlic against vampires or silver bullets for werewolves, equipping yourself with good password hygiene and 2FA is vital in the digital age. With these tools in your arsenal, you can enjoy the festivities of Halloween online, knowing you’re shielded from the things that go ‘hack’ in the night.

Have a safe and spook-tacular Halloween! 🎃👻🔐