7 Ways to Protect My Online Accounts

The more we move our lives online, the more accounts we create. From banking to social media to email, our online accounts contain a lot of important – and personal – information. Though worrying about the security of your online accounts may seem irrelevant, it’s actually important to consider; the more you protect your online accounts, the more you protect yourself. Below, find seven simple ways to safeguard your online accounts. 

Use strong passwords to protect online accounts

Though it sounds like a basic step, using strong, secure passwords is one of the best things you can do to protect online accounts. Make sure your passwords don’t have any personal significance to you; while this makes them easier to remember, it also makes them easier to guess.

A strong password should meet all these requirements:

  1. Be a minimum of 8-12 characters if you use a password generator, or 12-14 if you create it yourself
  2. Have a combination of numbers, special characters, and both uppercase and lowercase letters
  3. Does not contain any real words or phrases that could be easily guessed

When considering guessable words or phrases, think about how easily the words pair together. For example, ‘mypassword’ is ten characters, but the two words go very well together. According to the Password Strength Test, that password would be compromised in under a second with an offline fast hashing attack.

However, a password or passphrase like ‘passwordnaturecoupon’ is three completely unrelated words with a length of twenty characters. According to the Password Strength Test, it would take four years to crack that passcode in an unthrottled online attack. Add an uppercase letter, a number, and a special character, like ‘passwordNature-coupon2!’ and your password would take centuries to compromise in the same attack.

Strong passwords, and other tests like CAPTCHAs, are the first line of defense against hackers and other malicious cybercrime attempts. Never use the same password twice, even for lower-level accounts. For important accounts, like your bank account or email address, make sure that the passwords are completely random and unique.

Keep in mind that protecting your email account is especially important when it comes to password security. Should your email account get hacked, cybercriminals can click the “Forgot Password” link on various accounts and reset your passwords.

This would make it extremely difficult to recover the accounts. Make sure that your email account has a strong, unique password. Furthermore, we recommend you protect it with two-factor authentication, as explained in the next section.

protect online account

Enable two-factor authentication when available

Some websites, like banking sites, allow for users to enable 2FA, or two-factor authentication. It’s a verification procedure that adds a layer of security to your accounts by requiring you to confirm your identity with both your password and a code.

The code is most often sent by phone, with a quick call or text, or by email. Though both options are good, we recommend choosing 2FA via your email. Both should be secure if you take the proper safety precautions.

However, it’s easier for a hacker to intercept your text messages than your email. Since using two methods of authentication proves that you are the account owner, unless a hacker has your personal cell phone number or email address, they couldn’t enter the code and get into the account.

Furthermore, 2FA can act as an alert system should someone try to hack you. If you receive a text with a code that you didn’t request, you’ll know an attempt to access your account was made by someone else.

Secure your WiFi network

Leaving your WiFi network unsecured means you run the risk of someone connecting to your WiFi. Then, they can use it to commit cybercrimes, access your information and accounts, or worse. It’s recommended that you change your WiFi password, as well as your router login and password, to make your WiFi network as secure as possible.

To change your router login and password, find your router’s IP address – common ones are,,,, and – and enter it into your browser’s address bar in order to navigate to the page.

Each router has a default login username and password combination, but they’re easily guessed. Admin/Admin, Admin/password, and Admin/1234 are common username and password combinations. When you get to your router’s settings page, make sure to change the username and password to something unique and secure, following the tips for creating a strong password above.

To secure your WiFi network further, make sure to change your WiFi password as well. This is the password people will need to enter when accessing your WiFi. Making it complex and unique ensures that no unauthorized users make their way onto your network. For optimal security of your WiFi, set up a guest network so you never have to give out your real WiFi password to anyone.

Use a VPN on free WiFi networks

A virtual private network, or VPN, is one of the best ways to protect your online activity from hackers and other cybercriminals. VPNs are connection methods used to add security and privacy to both private and public networks. They encrypt your activity from the connection point to the connecting server, meaning that your traffic will be secure.

They can also hide your public IP when surfing the web, which masks users' online identity. Many VPN services have associated apps available on your mobile device's app store, meaning you can use them on the go to protect your accounts as well.

VPNs are especially beneficial if you need to use a free or public WiFi network. These networks are open and susceptible to interception, meaning someone can monitor the traffic or commit cybercrimes over the network. Because they change your IP address, a VPN protects you from the risks of public WiFi.

Install antivirus software to protect online accounts from malware

A solid antivirus program is a necessity for every Internet user. Regardless of how much time you spend online, viruses and malware are a threat. They can damage entire networks of computers, and often, users don’t even realize that they’ve downloaded them.

Different types of malware damage your computer and online accounts differently. Trojan horses, for example, can steal information you provide online, including your passwords and credit card numbers. Viruses can collect personal information kept on files.

Preventing malware is far easier than getting rid of it. A reliable antivirus program will go a long way in protecting your online accounts. Make sure you keep the program up-to-date and perform updates when prompted. This ensures that your antivirus software will catch issues before they do any real damage.

Change your passwords frequently

Even if you have strong passwords set in place, it’s a good idea to change your passwords every few months. For less important accounts, you can change them at least once a year. Changing your passwords often reduces the risk of account exposure and improves your online account security.

If you struggle to come up with passwords on your own, use a password generator to create strong passwords to use on your accounts. Having weak passwords that you keep year after year will increase your risk of becoming victim to a data breach or case of identity theft. If you’ve used your passwords for a long time, enter your email into the Data Breach Tool to ensure that you haven’t already had your information leaked.

Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords

If changing your passwords and creating new passwords often becomes a challenge, consider using a password manager to protect your online accounts. Password managers act as a sort of vault to keep all your login information secure for pre-existing online accounts. You won’t have to remember dozens of unique passwords and login credentials; instead, you’ll only need to remember the master password for the password manager you choose to use.

Furthermore, many password managers, like RoboForm, provide password generators that will auto-fill and save passwords for new accounts. If you want your online accounts to be as safe as possible, investing in the password protection that a password manager provides will be worth it.