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October Is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Michael Webb, Vice President of Information Security | October 2022

Did you know that every day you make security-related decisions that can impact your cybersecurity? Consider the number of passwords and online accounts or apps you have. According to a study completed by Nord Pass, an average user has around 100 passwords! That’s a lot to remember, especially if each one is unique. 

In recognition of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’d like to share with you some tips to safeguard your information and online presence. 

Why Should I Care about Cybersecurity?

In today’s interconnected world, everything is online. All of our conveniences—banking, grocery shopping, social media, and more—are online. This means that our personal habits, data, purchase history, and even our likes and dislikes, are stored somewhere online and can potentially be used against us. A 2021 DBIR study estimated that 85% of data breaches involved the human element, and this has only increased since the pandemic as more and more people work from home. In short, YOU are at the frontlines of defense in keeping your information safe. 

How Do I Choose a Good Password?

Choosing a good password can be daunting. It’s no surprise! With special characters, uppercase, lowercase, and numbers, it’s not only difficult to meet each site’s password criteria, but even more challenging to remember! Was it # or 3? Upper or lower A? 

Each password should be unique and far removed from any personal information. Recall how much of our data is stored online. In the blink of an eye, a hacker could figure out your favorite restaurant, pet’s name, alma mater, hometown... the list goes on. If you’re using that information for passwords, then you are opening yourself up to risk.

Here’s an example of a password that’s pretty easy to crack:


But all the parameters were met! There’s a special character, capital and lowercase letters, numbers. What went wrong? 

Think PassPHRASE, not PassWORD

When creating a strong password, it’s not just about the types of characters you use—it's how you use them. In today’s world of cybersecurity, the length of your password or phrase will always provide a greater defense than complexity. 

Let’s take a look at a much better one: 


For reference, the earth isn’t even 99 billion years old! John Denver’s lyrical passphrase is tougher than the cosmos. At least, according to this password generator. 

How Do I Remember it All?

Google study from 2019 found a whopping 2/3 of users reused passwords, probably because it’s too tough to remember them all. With the average 100 passwords per person, who’s got time for that? 

Try memorization or pneumonic devices, but a better method is to use a password management tool. Not only can you store your passwords in an online vault, accessible by your master password (or phrase!), but these tools can even generate strong, unique codes for you. As an added bonus, you can opt to have the tool fill in your information on specific sites, making logins quick and painless.

Some popular options to check out are: 

Whatever you do: don’t write them down or store them on a spreadsheet. They create unnecessary risk—just like reusing the same password. 

What's Next? 

If you don’t have a password management tool, sign up for an account and begin to take inventory of your online accounts and apps. How many passwords do you have? Next, look at how many are duplicates or are a little too similar to each other? Change them, lock them up, and throw away the proverbial key so the only person who can access them is YOU. 

Remember, your cybersecurity begins with you!

About Sharonview Federal Credit Union

Sharonview Federal Credit Union, voted in 2018 the No.1 credit union in South Carolina by Forbes, is headquartered in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and has been serving its members since 1955. Today, Sharonview serves over 100,000 members nationwide, has assets totaling more than $1.7 billion and operates 19 branches in North Carolina, South Carolina and New Jersey. It is also ranked as one of the top 200 credit unions in the country, proving its dedication to providing its members with a full array of value-added financial services, all of which are backed by the United States government and federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. Sharonview currently stands above the crowd in delivering the personal touch, providing loans with fewer restrictions, flexible terms and lower rates. For over 60 years, Sharonview has promised exceptional value and delivered financial services members can trust, with us it’s personal.




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