Protecting Your Online Passwords

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- On the heels of the news that Russian hackers have stolen 1.2 billion user names and passwords, cyber security experts are sounding the alarm. They are alerting you to change your online passwords, but despite the warnings, nearly everyone who spoke with Thursday admit they rarely do so.

"I've not changed my password in a while," Adam Davis said.

"The AOL account has been the same thing for 14 years," Shawn Hicks said.

"I probably haven't changed my password in several years," Christine Watson said, "because it's easy to remember."

We've all heard the excuses.

"It's so hard to remember different passwords for different accounts," Mary Fels said. "So, many people just use the same one."

But following the discovery of the Russian cyber crime ring, security experts say now more than ever, it's important you change your online passwords.

"Just as we would be uncomfortable losing the keys to our house or our car, in the 21st century we should be uncomfortable losing the keys to our technology resources," Jon Cutler, Marshall University Chief Information Security Officer said.

Cutler says improving your security online only takes a few simple steps.

"One of the suggestions is make sure you have a different password for different sites," Cutler said. "The challenge is there are so many websites that we visit, so many applications that we use, the tendency is to say, 'Well, I've got this password that I use, and I'm just going to use it everywhere."

"If one of those is compromised, it's easy to take that same credential and move to another site and another site," Cutler said.

Another tip: frequently change your passwords. Cutler says you don't need to do this for every website, but for important sites like your bank.

If that still sounds too tough, there are programs you can use that will remember your passwords for you.

"There's types of software add-ons for the computer, and for your mobile device called a password manager," Cutler said. "Many of these are free or low-cost tools that help you manage passwords."

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