How To Keep Your Accounts Secure Online

In the wake of recent large scale hacking incidents that seem to occur weekly, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit an interesting survey conducted by Google last year. In the study, Google asked security experts and non-experts the five most important things to do to ensure security online.

Not surprisingly, some of the things listed by non-experts and experts were the same, and some were quite different. The differences can be informative.

Google online security

The most common ground was around the topic of passwords. Non-experts had “use strong passwords” and “change passwords frequently” in the top five, while experts listed “use strong passwords”, “change passwords frequently” and “use a password manager” as three of the top five. Unless you have a perfect memory, and who does, a password manager is essential to being able to effectively use a different password for each site you visit and app you use. This is significant. If you use site A and it is hacked, the hackers could find out the user name or email and password you were using. If you are using those login credentials elsewhere, you are vulnerable on those sites as well.

We wrote about strong passwords and password manager software last month.

Non-experts listed “use antivirus software” as the most important element to keeping secure online. Experts who were surveyed agree that antivirus software is important but did not list it in the top five. According to them, the use of antivirus software can create a false sense of security for internet users. No antivirus software if foolproof.

An often-overlooked practice was as listed as most important by the experts – consistently installing software updates. Many users view software updates as a nuisance, and in some cases updates aren’t perfect and result in a worse user experience, but many updates are patches to repair security flaws or identified vulnerabilities. If you ignore the updates, you are open to known vulnerabilities.

Finally, the experts listed utilizing two-factor authentication (2FA) as the third most important online security practice. 2FA is defined as combining a username and password together with an additional piece of information that only the user knows to make it harder for potential intruders to gain access and steal that person’s personal data or identity. Many sites offer 2FA, and users should take advantage.

We encourage parents to help teens get up to speed with best practices for online security, and to start early. Once credit cards and online banking get added to the equation, the price you’ll pay if your accounts are hacked rises quickly.


If you are worried that your teen or tween is at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!



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