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Good password hygiene is now more important than ever

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Unfortunately, 2019 was another record year for data breaches. So, cyber-criminals now have access to even more passwords they can use to break into your accounts.

If you reuse the same password on a lot of accounts – as so many people do – you're putting all of those accounts at risk, if just one of them is compromised.

"If they get one password and you use that across the multiple accounts, a very simple account you set up in the past could provide access to your financial data which could significantly cost you money and time and credit aspects and who knows all

the different ways the attackers can make money off of that,” said Chris Scott with IBM X-Force Research.

You should have a strong and unique password for each of your accounts. You can use a password manager to remember them for you.

At the very least, it’s imperative that you have a secure and unique password for your key accounts: email, bank, credit card, financial and social media accounts. Then set up multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible.

MFA requires you to enter a code – sent to you by phone or email – as well as the password, to verify it’s really you. Yes, this slows you down a few seconds, but

it can stop a hacker. It can also save you from the hassles of having to deal with a compromised account.

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"Even if someone gets your password, multi-factor authentication makes it very hard for them to break into your systems,” Scott said.

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