How to Secure Online Accounts

Updated on September 5, 2019
EricFarmer8x profile image

Eric uses many online services and websites. He loves to talk about them with friends and family and he has many things to recommend.

Protect Your Online Accounts

Most websites require an account of some sorts to access or use them. It is important to secure our online accounts as much as possible, and I am going to go over advice on how to do this.

This Is a Guide on Security Not Privacy

While some of the things in this guide will increase your privacy, this is not the focus. Also keep in mind that, at some point, you must decide between convenience and security.

There are some security options I do not use because they are too inconvenient.

Passwords Can Be the Weakest Link

Be Careful About Your Passwords

One of the biggest weak points of online security is passwords. You have probably used a weak password before, and I know I have in the past.

Use Strong Passwords

Having strong passwords is one the first things you should do to protect your online accounts. A password should be over eight characters long and use capital letters, numbers, and symbols. Using longer and more complex passwords is better.

Do Not Reuse Passwords

After creating a password do not use it again! Doing this is a huge mistake many people make. Why is reusing passwords such a bad thing to do?

People Will Try to Guess Your Account Credentials

We need to role play as a hacker or account thief to understand the issue of password reuse. If I can successfully steal one account from somebody, I will try that same email and password combination at other websites.

Website Breaches

The website storing your login information can be hacked. If your login information is leaked online, don't be surprised if some hackers try to log into other websites using these credentials.

Password Reuse Leads to Other Accounts Being Hacked

If this person does reuse the same password and email everywhere, trying the same combination will lead to me breaking into to other accounts.

Use a Password Manager

Password Managers are Great Online Tools

I have over 50 unique passwords, and there is no way I can remember them all. You should use a password manager to store your online account information.

Password Managers Are More Secure

Using a password manager allows you to make more secure passwords as now you do not have to remember them. Doing this is a huge boost towards protecting your online accounts.

If you do use a password manager, disable password storage with your current web browser and stick to using whatever manger you chose.

Password Manager Options

There are Cloud-based and local based password managers. Using a Cloud-based password manager is more convenient. Using a locally stored password manager like KeePass is more secure but a bit more cumbersome to use.

The Password Manager I Use

I am currently using Bitwarden and, this is an open source cloud-based password manager.

Do You Use a Password Manager?

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An Example of a Password Manager

My Bitwarden password vault.
My Bitwarden password vault. | Source

Use Two-Factor Authentication Whenever Possible

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Having strong passwords is not enough for me when it comes to protecting my online accounts, and I use anything I can to add extra security to my accounts.

If a website offers two-factor authentication, use it! While the extra security may seem like a hassle, it is 100% worth it.

This website shows you what services provide two-factor authentication.

What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

Two-factor authentication is having something other than a password to log into an account, and two-factor authentication applications normally send you temporary codes to use.

Why Is Two-Factor Authentication Useful?

Two-factor authentication makes your accounts much more secure because if the attacker cannot access the device that generates the codes, they should not be able to log into your account.

Examples of Two-Factor Authentication

Code Two-Factor Authentication

You can use a service like Google Authenticator or Authy and some services have individual mobile applications you must use.

Text Two-Factor Authentication

Some services offer authentication by sending texts or SMS (short message service). This is not as secure as an app and I only use this when there are not other options available.

Email Two-Factor Authentication

Some services send codes by email for new sign-ins. This is not as secure as apps and I only use this as a option if there are other other choices.

Do You Use Two-Factor Authentication?

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Delete Unused Accounts

Don't Keep Unwanted Accounts

If you are 100% sure you will never use an online account again delete it as there is no reason to let businesses have your personal information if you no longer need their services.

This May Be Hard Sometimes

Some websites make deleting accounts hard, and there is no easy or obvious way to do this. I suggest contacting customer support if you find yourself in this situation and want to delete a troublesome account.

Only Store Payment Information with Websites You Use Often

I also recommend only storing payment information for online accounts you spend money with often. Doing this helps prevent a possible thing for hackers to steal and it also helps prevent unauthorized transactions.

Useful Security Related Web Browser Extensions

Use Web Browser Extensions

These are the add-ons/extensions I use to make my web browser more secure. Most of these add-ons/extensions should work with both Google Chrome and Firefox.

Security Extension List

  • Bitdefender TrafficLight: This add-on/extension warns you about dangerous websites, so you do not visit them.
  • HTTPS Everywhere: This extension tries to open the most secure version of web pages. I always leave HTTPS Everywhere on, and it's a nice thing to have to make your internet browsing more secure.
  • Password Manager: Most online-based password managers have browser extensions, and if you use a password manager, I highly suggest using this as well.
  • Ublock Origin: Ads can lead to shady websites with malware, and ads are also annoying and slow down web pages. If you still want to support a website, you can whitelist them or give them a donation.

Clear Your Browsing History When Using Public Computers

Always Sign out of Public Computers

It is important to make sure you sign out of all online accounts before you stop using a public computer. Deleting the current web browser history makes sure you do not miss anything. I do this when I start and finish using a public computer.

Use Incognito/Private Browsing

It's even better if you can use an incognito/private browsing mode as then nothing will get saved, to begin with.

How to Delete Browser History on Firefox

How to delete browser history on Firefox.
How to delete browser history on Firefox. | Source

Be Careful of Public WiFi Networks

Be More Mindful of Security on Public WiFi

Be wary of using public WiFi networks as hackers love to use public WiFi to find victims. While there won't be a hacker every time you use a public network, try to avoid doing anything too personal.

Using VPNs May Be a Good Option

Some people recommend only using public WiFi networks with a VPN. This article from Tom's Hardware goes over VPN services, and it is a good place to start doing research.

Do You Use a VPN?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Eric Farmer

    Was This Article Helpful? Did You Learn Anything? Feel Free to Comment.

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      • EricFarmer8x profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Farmer 

        7 days ago from Rockford Illinois

        Child safety apps do help. But keep in mind you will have to teach your kids safe browsing habits.

        Also if they want to see something they may find a way to find what they want anyway. I know from personal experience that sometimes you can break these protections.

        No one tool will be perfect because new websites always popup. The best thing you could do is a whitelist instead of a blacklist. But this will be very restrictive.

      • Georgiana Collins profile image

        Georgiana Collins 

        7 days ago

        Thank you for such an insightful article!

        I've noticed there are some suggestions that I didn't even know about. And today, it's so important to stay safe, especially online.

        And, I also have a question. Do you consider parental control apps a decent way to protect a child online? Recently, I started considering installing one on my brother's phone (it's android). I know that many of my friends don't trust these tools, but I maybe will give it a chance?

        I know there are different programs for parental control, but now I'm focused on mSpy because it, as I understood, allows to monitor browsing history (source:https://www.mspy.com/browsing-history.html).

        We use VPN and Incognito, and I always tell my brother to stay vigilant and away from suspicious websites, but you know - kids.... Sometimes I just feel there are websites that I could block on his phone.

        As a person who is competent in the issue of online safety, would you approve an app like that?

      • KC3Lady profile image

        Kelly Ann Christensen 

        3 months ago from Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas

        Yes, they hide the status now as stated so you can't even update the only independent browser anymore, Firefox. By the way, I'm glad to see I can still post here since I was just blocked from the forums for 4 weeks. I find that interesting based on past observation of the forums here on Hubpages.

      • EricFarmer8x profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Farmer 

        3 months ago from Rockford Illinois

        @Kelly Ann Christensen

        That library probably has policies in place to prevent users from installing and updating software. This is pretty common actually.

        My advice is to make sure you feel secure at whatever computer you are using. I also recommend using private browsing tabs so when you leave nobody will be able to see or interact with your browsing session.

      • KC3Lady profile image

        Kelly Ann Christensen 

        4 months ago from Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas

        Note: The following edit does not appear to have published. The Walmart was in Washington State, and it was the law enforcement in that area who were contacted by the Walmart clerk.

      • KC3Lady profile image

        Kelly Ann Christensen 

        4 months ago from Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas

        Thanks for the tips. I don't trust Google Chrome at all, and I certainly hope nothing happens to Firefox. It is never updated at the library, you had to manually update it. Then they concealed even that so that you can not manually update it or even see the status, and you know from experience that it is often left vulnerable. Firefox being the only independence browser. Explorer is a joke.

        I think something needs to be done about these online thieves which I do not think many people have any idea of while using their computers. Law enforcement is completely and utterly failing on this front, too, and undoubtedly worse than that. For example, it was documented for years that certain individuals were stealing bank card numbers and private information from forum members (hacking into their computers), and it did not appear anything was ever done about it. I reported the exact same thing, and Walmart was willing to call police when the thief came in to pick up the game card they had purchased with my bank card, but stated when Washington State law enforcement was contacted they refused to cooperate (as usual, this has become SOP (standard operating procedure) for law enforcement in our experience) claiming the reason was because it was under $50.

        At some point these perpetrators take over from being allowed to continue endlessly. For example, I had several cell phones stolen over years. Then that is one less way to keep hold of your account, even if the Google verification codes sometimes took up to 55 minutes to arrive, with the distinct appearance of manipulation and the announcement that is was "punishment," text messaging verification seemed more secure.

      • Glenn Stok profile image

        Glenn Stok 

        2 years ago from Long Island, NY

        In reference to your last comment, I guess I’m one of those 10% because I use the Google Authenticator. I like it better than the other type of Two-Factor Authentication that sends a text to your phone. People don’t realize how easy it is to use until they try it. And it sure adds protection. A hacker would have to steal your phone to get in.

      • EricFarmer8x profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Farmer 

        2 years ago from Rockford Illinois

        Thanks. I just read an article this week where a senior Google developer stated that only about 10% of Google account holders use Two-Factor Authentication. I know in the past it tended to be more annoying but it is not so bad now.

      • Glenn Stok profile image

        Glenn Stok 

        2 years ago from Long Island, NY

        You did an excellent job with this article Eric. Lots of useful information and well-explained. With all the hacking going on, I think Two-Factor Authentication is one of the best solutions. Like you, I also use it wherever I can.

      • EricFarmer8x profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Farmer 

        2 years ago from Rockford Illinois

        Thanks for the comment. It seems like using all HTPS would be fine from I am reading but I would do some personal research. I do not have too much experience running a website myself. It is something I am planning on doing in the future.

      • cclitgirl profile image

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        2 years ago from Western NC

        Nicely written. :) I do a lot of work online and have systems in place for strong passwords and even installed an SSL certificate on my website. Here's a question:o Though the unsecure version is what comes up (unless people know to type in "https" I am hesitant to make the entire thing "https" because of caching and my CDN not being able to cache for international visitors. I hear it's harder for that to happen. What do you think is best here? Right now, I don't sell anything on my site, but if I were, I might secure the purchasing page and not the rest.

      • EricFarmer8x profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Farmer 

        2 years ago from Rockford Illinois

        Thanks. I tried to make it as informative as I can.

      • Robert Sacchi profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        2 years ago

        Thank you. This article has lots of good information.

      • EricFarmer8x profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Farmer 

        2 years ago from Rockford Illinois

        Thanks for the nice comment.

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 

        2 years ago from New Delhi, India

        Great informative article!

        I can see that you have published some very informative hubs about internet games. I am sure many readers must be searching for this.

        Well done and keep up the good work!

      • EricFarmer8x profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Farmer 

        2 years ago from Rockford Illinois

        There are still are plenty of terms I do not know myself! It is always nice to learn new things.

      • profile image

        Mary Diderich 

        2 years ago

        Learned quite a few things. You have used terms that I am not at all familiar with and that provides me with an opportunity to do some research and learn even more.

        Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

      • EricFarmer8x profile imageAUTHOR

        Eric Farmer 

        2 years ago from Rockford Illinois

        I am glad you learned something.

      • profile image

        Judy OLSON 

        2 years ago

        Great information!!!!! Lots I never even knew about!!!! Thank you!!!!!!

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