7 On Your Side: How to pick secure passwords

This may shock you... one in seven Americans were notified their personal data had been stolen. That's up 56 percent from the year before. So how can you keep your data secure? 7 On Your Side partnered exclusively with Consumer Reports to show us how.

The recent eBay hack highlights how important it is to keep changing your passwords to protect your data. But how do you create secure passwords and how can you remember them all? Here's what you need to know.

Cyber thieves are always looking for new ways to steal your personal data. One of the best ways to protect yourself online is using strong passwords, but who can remember all those passwords? Like many people, Virginia Doetsch can't.

"Between my home and my office, I probably have 15-20 different passwords that I have to remember. And they change almost quarterly now. Sometimes I almost need passwords for my passwords," Doetsch says.

One solution is password managers. Consumer Reports' Dean Gallea tested one called LastPass that keeps all your passwords in one place. He says it's a good option.

"LastPass saves your login ID and password for websites you've told it to and the next time you go to that website, it fills it in for you," Gallea says.

But isn't LastPass also vulnerable to hackers?

"LastPass stores your personal information in its secure online vault and any communications between that vault and your computer are encrypted so that it makes it effectively unreadable even to a hacker," Gallea says.

You can download the service for free for use on your computer, or if you want the $12 a year premium service, you'll get access to LastPass on all your mobile devices.

However, some people, like Virginia, are too afraid to put their passwords in the hands of someone else.
Another option is to create easy-to-remember, hard-to-crack passwords yourself.

"A more secure password has at least nine characters and has a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. You can use a core password that's easy to remember and then put characters ahead of it and after it to vary it for different websites," Gallea says.

Consumer Reports says you should also avoid using ordinary dictionary words which hackers can easily crack because they use software that tries just about every word there is in the dictionary.
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technologysecurityhackingcomputersidentity theft7 On Your Side
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