How to Keep Your Online Accounts Secure

Updated on August 14, 2018
EricFarmer8x profile image

Eric has spent years learning about computer security and online security. He loves to share his knowledge of these subjects with others.

Most websites require an account of some sorts to access or use them, and it is important to make sure we secure these accounts from intrusion and harm.

There are people out their that want to break into your accounts, and they will try many different tricks and traps to get you.

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.

Security, Not Privacy

I will go over steps you can take to protect your online accounts.

While some of these methods will increase your privacy, this is not the focus.

Also keep in mind that, at some point, you have to 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

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.

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.

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?

We need to roleplay 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.

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

This example should make it clear why reusing passwords everywhere is a huge mistake, and I recommend almost every password should be unique.

I say almost every password as I do repeat passwords in some instances. I sometimes use a common password when I want to make an account quickly, and I am not sure the account will be very important.

I will change the password if the account ends up being important to me though.

Use a Password Manager

You should use a password manager to store your online account information. Using a password manager allows you to make more secure passwords as now you do not have to remember them, and doing this is a huge boost towards protecting your online accounts.

I have over 50 unique passwords, and there is no way I can remember them all. If you do use a password manager, disable password storage with your current web browser and stick to using whatever manger you chose.

There are Cloud-based and local based password managers. Using a Cloud-based password manager is more convenient and easy to do.

Using a locally stored password manager like KeePass is more secure but a bit more cumbersome to 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

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.

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.

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

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

Examples of Two-Factor Authentication

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

Some services offer authentication by sending texts and I use this type of authentication to protect my PayPal account.

Some services send codes by email for new sign-ins. Here are the accounts I use two-factor authentication to project.

Do You Use Two-Factor Authentication?

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Delete Unused 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.

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.

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

Useful Security Related 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.

  • Bitdefender TrafficLight: This add-on/extensions 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 leave HTTPS Everywhere on at all times, 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

It is important to make sure you sign out of all online accounts before you stop using a public computer, and 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.

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 Safari

How to clear web history on Safari.
How to clear web history on Safari. | Source

How to Delete Browser History on Google Chrome Browser

How to clear the history on the Google Chrome.
How to clear the history on the Google Chrome. | Source

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 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.

Some people recommend only using public WiFi networks with a VPN. I can't say that is something I do myself, but it a step you can take to guarantee security when using public WiFi.

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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You Will Feel Happy Being Secure

Securing your online accounts may sometimes seem tedious and boring. However nobody wants to be hacked, and you will appreciate the extra peace of mind this brings.

© 2017 Eric Farmer

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

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    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      9 months 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 

      9 months ago from Phoenix Arizona

      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 

      9 months 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 

      10 months ago from Phoenix Arizona

      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 

      10 months 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 

      11 months ago from Phoenix Arizona

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

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      11 months ago

      Thank you. This article has lots of good information.

    • EricFarmer8x profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Farmer 

      11 months ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Thanks for the nice comment.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      11 months 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 

      12 months ago from Phoenix Arizona

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

    • profile image

      Mary Diderich 

      12 months 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 

      13 months ago from Phoenix Arizona

      I am glad you learned something.

    • profile image

      Judy OLSON 

      13 months ago

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

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