The first time you enter your password and get the error message, you figure your fingers slipped on the keyboard or the touch screen.
The second time it happens, you get a little agitated and make a big show of pressing the keys in a very precise order to make absolutely sure you're doing it right.
The third time, you start to doubt yourself on whether this really is your password or not.
By the fourth time, you've come to the inevitable conclusion that your password has either been compromised, stolen or both.
A website with the clever name of "Have I Been Pwned" is making plenty of people realize just how often their password has been stolen or compromised. If you're not familiar with geek speak, 'Pwned' is gamer terminology for "owned" as in conquered. The website takes your email address and checks it against records to see where you've used it as your membership. It then compares that list to the list of sites that have had dangerous breaches since the time you signed up on each site.
The numbers will likely surprise you, most people have an average of 3-5 breaches depending on the age of their email address.
So what do you do when you take the test and see how frequently your data has been swiped?
Steps to a Better Password Life
Your first step should be to employ a password manager to secure not just your individual accounts, but also to protect them in a password "vault" that has only one way in and out, with that way belonging solely to you. A password management system such as Dashlanecan generate new, unique, difficult to crack passwords for your individual accounts, no matter how many you have. They will all be wholly unique and you don't have to memorize a single one of them. You will have to concoct and memorize a master password that is the key to all the rest. When a website wants your password, you type in the master password, which opens the vault and applies the right credentials.
Your second step should be to enable two-factor authentication to as many of your accounts as possible. The second step can be anything from your thumbprint on a smartphone to a secret code texted to your phone. The second form of authentication makes your account infinitely tougher to crack open.
Your third step is the most important in the long run. Sign up for notifications of breaches in popular companies and databases. When one happens to a site that you subscribe to or do business with or through, immediately log in and change your password. The faster you do this, the less time hackers and cybercriminals have to run amok in your personal business. Without these notifications, you have no way of knowing whether your passwords are valid or compromised. Keeping on top of the evolving world of password protection is essential to keeping your wealth, your health, and your personal information as safe as possible.