This story was written by Heather Sullivan, a reporter with WWBT, a Raycom property in Richmond, Virginia.
You use a pet name, the word "football," "baseball," or even "let me in" as your password, right? Yep, so does just about everyone else.
The Computer Doctor's Kevin Boynton says most people use combinations of the same three passwords on all their accounts. Once a hacker gets one, they use programs to try variations of those words and break into them all.
"Now they can take that information and go into your bank account," Boynton said. "They can go to your email account, other social media accounts, and they get lucky a lot."
How do they get your passwords? Through email phishing scams, massive data breaches, like the ones on Yahoo, eBay, and Uber. And Boynton says clicking yes to have a browser remember your password just makes it easier.
"If hackers are able to remote into your computer," Boynton said. "They can steal that information super easy.
So how can you protect yourself? Boynton recommends using a password manager. "There's LastPass, there's Dashlane, a whole bunch of others, KeyPass," he said
It's software that ranges from free to about $40 a year. You set up one password to get into the program, then it generates complicated, different passwords for all of your accounts.
"You would never be able to remember, but it will remember for you," Boynton said.
And it's encrypted. So even if a hacker got the password into your password manager, they can't guess all the complicated passwords it has created for you.
LastPass cannot reset your password so if they can't do it, theoretically neither can bad guys if they get a hold of your encrypted database.
If you don't use password manager software, Boynton also says use multi-factor authentication and choose passwords that are long, complicated, have letters, numbers and symbols.