By Rebecca Aguilar.

Did you know you have a pair of golden keys in your hands? The keys are passwords to your social media platforms. And guess who wants those keys? Hackers.

Once hackers get into your social media platforms they can latch on to your friends and followers and create havoc by spreading misinformation and viruses.

According to a University of Phoenix study, nearly two-thirds of U.S. Adults with social media accounts say they have been hacked. The sample of 2,088 social media users also revealed the following:

• 84 percent of adults have at least one social media account.
• 58 percent believe their data on their social media platforms is somewhat or very secure.
• 58 percent check their security settings once a month.

Keep them guessing

Hackers don’t need much to figure out your password. All they have to do is find your favorite posts and they get the idea. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

• Don’t use the names of your children, grandchildren or even spouse. All hackers have to do is look at your photos and figure out the names.

• Avoid using the name of your favorite sports team. Didn’t you mention the team during the Super Bowl or March Madness?

• It’s not a good idea to use the name of your company or your career choice. Hackers know you’re a real estate agent, journalist, or other professional from your profile.

• Numbers in a row are not a good idea. It’s easy to guess “1234” or “5678” or “11111”

• Keep away from common expressions like “Ioveyou,” “Thankyou” and even “GodBlessYou.” Hackers have a list of favorite phrases.

• Your current city or where you were born are predictable. Best not to use them.

• Do you have a favorite product? Don’t use it for a password “RiceCrispies” “Coke” “Cookies” or “icecream” are easy to figure out.

Strong, long passwords are worth it

With a little creativity you can keep hackers off your social media pages. Start creating strong passwords. Also use different passwords for most or all of your social media pages.

• The longer the better. Create passwords with at least 12 to 15 characters.

• Mix it up. Those 15 characters should include numbers, letters, capital letters and symbols.

• Use a sentence you will remember, but again use numbers, letters, capital letters and symbols. Example: DoyouLoveicecream&cake4ever!

• Check the strength of your password at Password Checker Online. This free web tool site will let you know if your password is strong or random enough:

Change your passwords on a consistent basis

Are you guilty of not changing your password for several months or even years? That is a big mistake.
You have to keep one step ahead of the hackers. Try to change your passwords at least every two months. Put a sticky note on your computer to remind you.

Also, don’t keep your list of passwords on your computer. What if it gets stolen?
It’s all right to be old school. Write your passwords down on a piece of paper and keep it in a safe place at home. Good luck!

Rebecca Aguilar is a multiple award-winning journalist and social media leader. Aguilar is also the founder of the largest Latina virtual networking group “Wise Latinas Linked” on Facebook and LinkedIn. Follow her on twitter @RebeccaAguilar

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