Creating strong passwords is an essential step to protecting yourself online. Passwords are your first defense against criminal access to your devices, accounts and personal information.
It is easy for hackers to go unnoticed at first, but the implications of someone getting into your account are still very real. There are some obvious and other not-so-obvious signs that your account has been hacked. If you experience any of these signs, the best thing to do is reset your password immediately and keep an eye on your accounts for unusual activity moving forward.
Have you noticed odd activity on your account? Small things like emails in your sent folder that you did not write or a comment on a social media account that you did not leave to big things like spam sent to your friends and purchases you did not make are all signs that someone may have access to your account.
If one of your passwords suddenly stops working, a hacker may already have access to your account. If so, they likely changed your account’s login information, essentially locking you out of your account.
Access Confirmation Message
Many accounts now have 2-factor authentication enabled to ensure you—and only you—are signing in to the account. You may receive a message that says, “Your ID was used to sign in to …” or “A new sign-in was detected for …” If you see a message like this and did not try to access the account, deny entry and change your password immediately. Never accept a push notification you did not request.
Internet connectivity gets better and better with time. If you notice your computer slowing down, someone else may be using your bandwidth. A neighbor may be using your unsecured wireless connection, or a hacker may be downloading data from your hard drive. Either way, you need to take action and secure your account.
Your antivirus should always be on. If you notice it is off, it is likely the work of a hacker’s malware installed on your device.
Use a passphrase—a string of words or a sentence—rather than a single password
Add numbers and special characters (e.g., !,@,#,$,%,^,&,*,?)
Avoid using common words or phrases that anyone would know
Avoid consecutive keyboard combinations (e.g., QWERTY, ASDFG, 1234)
Do not use easy-to-find personal information such as your date of birth or pet’s name
Select “Never” when your web browser asks to remember a password on a shared device
Always sign out when finished using an account, especially on shared networks or devices
Enable 2-factor authentication to double your protection
Avoid entering passwords when connected to public Wi-Fi, such as at an airport or coffee shop
Use different passwords for different accounts
Utilize a secure password manager to remember all your long passwords, like LastPass
Never share your passwords with anyone
What to Do
If your FSU password has been compromised:
- Notify the ITS Service Desk at 850-644-4357
- Follow these instructions to secure your account
If another password has been compromised:
- Reset your password
- Clear your browser cache
- Log out of all devices, if available
- Turn on 2-factor authentication for the account, if available
Change Your Password
Inspired to create a stronger password? Put your new skills to use and change your FSU password
Creating Strong Passwords
Watch this short LinkedIn Learning video to learn more strategies for creating strong passwords and passphrases
Have I Been Pwned?
Find out if your email or phone number has been exposed in a data breach