Criminals on the Internet are becoming increasingly sophisticated and more professional. In this article, we will show you how to securely protect your online accounts through seven simple steps.

The threat in the virtual space is growing dramatically. Through well-organized attacks in the past months and years numerous websites have been hacked, among them as prominent as Yahoo, LinkedIn and MySpace. Meanwhile over 2 billion user data are available on the black market or even publicly.

With these seven tips, you can ensure that your online accounts are protected against misuse:

1. Check whether accounts have already been pinned

With the Identity Leak Checker from the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI), you can check whether identity data can circulate freely in the Internet and can be misused by entering the e-mail address. The security researchers behind this offer make it possible to match up with now more than two billion stolen identity data available on the Internet.

2. Use secure passwords

First, a separate password should be created for each account. Of course, it is more complex for each platform to use its own password, but there are two simple ways: The first is that you extend your secure password by one mechanism per platform. They can, for example, add the start and end letter of the respective platform. For example, your Google password might be G! 723nefvHu2634fn-e, and your Apple ID A! 723nefvHu2634fn-e. Or they use the first two letters of a service, the last two or any other mix, plus special characters. This means you only need to remember a single secure password and a consistent system.

Even more secure is to use a password manager that stores all your passwords and important connections. You enter your master password only once, and all remaining passwords are then encrypted in the system and are available in the browser and / or on other devices. Use tools like KeePass, 1Password or LastPass.

3. Use the backup address

Back up all pages twice where a burglary would have fatal consequences: Apple and Microsoft IDs, Google Account, e-mail accounts, shopping platforms, or financial pages like Paypal. Make sure that there is a second e-mail address that you can access. With this data, a compromised account can be quickly restored in the event of a case.

4. Do not use trivial passwords

The security company SplashData examines and evaluates millions of chopped user data every year. Just look at the current top 10 passwords from 2015 on the left.
Neither of these passwords would sustain a hack attempt for more than a minute.

5. Make sure you have sufficient password length

Criminals use Brute Force software, which has tried the most common password combinations until your password is found. All the words you can find in the lexicon, and especially names and easy-to-find information on your person such as first name, last name, places, date of birth or e-mail address are easy for professionals to find out.

Instead, use letter and number combinations, best mixed with lowercase and uppercase letters, as well as special characters. To make a brute force attack unprofitable, the password should be at least 8 characters long.

6. Aids for passwords

The problem: Safe passwords are hard to remember. Fortunately, there is a simple memorization aid. Simply embed a whole sentence that you can easily remember, such as “FC Bayern München was founded in 1900” – From this set you can now create a secure password by extracting the initial letters: “DFCBMw1900g!”
Another method would be to mix an easy-to-memorize word with a date. For example, the name of your first dog “Senta” and the date of birth of your partner is “! S14e02n77ta”.

7. Keep the equipment and systems clean

The best passwords are of no use if your devices are infected by viruses and Trojans. Once the malware is on the computer, criminals can use keyword loggers and sniffer to listen to all keyboard input. Entered strings after calling up email or banking applications are sent online to the perpetrators and their accounts are taken over instantly.

Secure yourself with antivirus and firewall and regularly check your PC, notebook and also your smartphone for pests. If you have a suspicion, run an online scan. Also, regularly install security updates to close gaps in the system.