College students are more connected online than ever before. Thousands of emails, texts, tweets, Facebook messages, and other communications will pass through their computers and phones over the course of their college years. Of course, this also leads to an equally large number of chances for security breaches and possible stolen information. Thankfully, there are many ways to prevent the loss of your accounts and online identity.

One easy way to increase your security and give your online self a better fighting chance against hackers and identity thieves is to make it harder to gain access to your accounts. Your passwords are important to protect email, social media, and financial accounts. However, a downfall of us being human is thinking along similar lines as others or being too consistent in our own thinking. This leads to many people using common and easily-guessed passwords, or one person using only slight variations of a single password for all their accounts. By varying your passwords and increasing their length/complexity, it will take longer for your password to be broken by a brute-force attack. There will even be a point where, if the complexity and length are sufficient, even a large parallel processing supercomputer will take a significant amount of time to try all possible combinations.

Additionally, by varying your passwords, if one password is found through another possible weakness in a security system, it will be more difficult to determine your other passwords. This may be difficult to manage if you have a bad memory and/or many accounts, but a password manager will automatically generate random strings of characters for a password and only require a single password to be remembered. Alternatively, you could physically write all of your passwords down in a secret place, which might work if you are good at keeping physical objects secure. Whatever method you use, one of the first steps to making your online profile more secure is to ensure that only you have access to it. This starts with the passwords you create.