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Password Protection Measures to Keep Your Information and Money Safe

Last month First Community Bank and Trust sponsored its semi-annual Document Disposal Day in Beecher. We destroyed over 4,000 pounds of paper containing confidential information, thereby destroying any chance of that information being used for fraudulent purposes.

But what about that information that isn't on a piece of paper, but is stored on your computer? Have you taken every possible step to keep it safe from being stolen? The key to keeping your online information safe is by being vigilant in managing your passwords for all of your online activity. Think of passwords like you would underwear: they shouldn't be shared with others, they shouldn't be shown to others and they should be changed often (maybe not everyday, but often).

According to Joe Siegrist, CEO at password management software vendor LastPass, the #1 mistake people make is using the same password for more than one account. Yes, it is easier to remember one password than ten different ones, but once that password is compromised, hackers can start breaking into other accounts. Using unique passwords for every account is vital to maintaining a high level of security.

In addition to changing passwords often, it is also important to make sure the passwords are strong. Personal references (kid/spouse/pet's names, birthday/anniversary dates, etc.) and common words or sequences ("password", 12345, qwerty) are all easily obtained or guessed and should be avoided. Strong passwords contain capital letters, symbols, and numbers. Try taking a lengthy word or phrase and substituting numbers and symbols, such as L84D!nNer2Nite!. Generally speaking, the more characters, the stronger the password.

Challenge questions are another fairly easy way hackers can gain access to your information. With social media exposing just about all of our personal information, it wouldn't take long for complete strangers to learn your mother's maiden name or your first pet's name. Make them more challenging by using original, rather than correct answers: Your mother's maiden name: Beef Stew; Street you grew up on: vacuum cleaner; Favorite color: accident. The answers don't matter as long as you remember them.

Therein lies the hardest part of all - remembering the user names, passwords, and challenge question answers for each online account. One online study conducted in August 2012 by Harris Interactive reported that 58 percent of online adults have five or more unique passwords associated with their online logins and 30 percent of people have more than 10 unique passwords they need to remember.

To help remember passwords, there are typically three choices: save logins in your browser, use a web-based password manager, or store passwords locally on your desktop or phone using an app or software program. (Please notice that writing passwords on a sticky note and placing it under your keyboard is NOT a recommended method.)

Saving logins with your browser (Google, Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.) is convenient but not the most secure method. Web-based managers offer more security, but you still need to remember a strong password to access your information and you are taking a leap of faith by storing your information on someone else's server. Using an app or software program to safeguard your passwords locally on your desktop or phone is the most secure method, but may not be accessible from multiple devices. As you can see, there are pros and cons to each which need to be considered when deciding the best method for your situation. For more information about each, check out this article: http://is.gd/l57RQr.

Ironically, technology has made things both easier and more difficult all at the same time. The cost of having that information at our fingertips is vigilance in protecting it. Creating strong, non-dictionary based passwords and then taking the appropriate steps in protecting them will greatly decrease your chances of having your information compromised.


About First Community Bank and Trust
First Community Bank and Trust is a privately owned bank. Established in 1916 First Community Bank and Trust has been serving Beecher, IL, Peotone, IL and the surrounding communities for over 99 years. Our commitment to providing the best banking products and services is matched only by our outstanding customer service. We offer traditional community banking services, including mortgage, consumer, and commercial lending, as well as state of the art electronic banking services.

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Press Contact:
Steven D. Koehn, VP
First Community Bank and Trust
(708) 946-2246