Change your passwords this Cyber Monday

November 22, 2016 | GET MORE : Innovation

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Here’s another "to do" to add to your list this holiday season: change your passwords.

Like it or not, the holiday shopping season is upon us. It's time to start making lists of things to do and people to buy for. It’s time to scout the house for the best places to hide the unwrapped gifts. It's time to set up that top secret email folder for incoming receipts from online shopping.

Here's another "to do" to add to your list: change your passwords.

As you go about your merry way clicking away from one site to another this Cyber Monday, our team here at U.S. Bank suggests changing your password on each site after you login. More important than changing it: make your password on each site unique, and make them strong.

"If there's one piece of advice when shopping safely online, it's to stop reusing passwords," said Dominic Venturo, chief innovation officer at U.S. Bank. "A survey done by CS ID of 1,200 US consumers found that 61 percent of people reused passwords across multiple websites. That might make it easy to login, but it opens consumers to enormous risk as bad guys look for new ways to steal identities."

What if I forget my password?

Like anything these days, when it comes to passwords, there’s an app for that! Password apps have been around for 3-5 years. A quick search of your app store under the term "password manager" or "password safe" will turn up dozens of options. While it's impossible to endorse one password safekeeping app over another, there are some things to think about when searching for a password app.

First, make sure the app is well reviewed. The higher stars and lots of reviews tend to give you better user feedback than one with many stars but only a few reviewers. Note the time stamp of the review as well – make sure it’s current!

Second, look for one that will allow you access with your fingerprint. Combining biotechnology – unique identifiers that can only be used by you – with normal password protections will help make sure your information is secure.

Third, look for articles from reliable sources that offer updated guidance on password apps on the market today. For example, PC Magazine recently named its "Best Password Managers of 2016."

If a password app isn't your style, some browsers, including Firefox, Chrome and Safari, have incorporated a password suggestion tool that will give you a strong password and possibly keep it in the keychain for future reference.

Enhancements on the horizon

Banks are in the business of trust, and pour tremendous investment into keeping customer information secure. In addition, banks are required by federal regulation to know their customers. With that in mind, what if the bank was the central location to authenticate your credentials when you’re shopping online?

"The idea having your bank validate online identity is something that is generating interest in the financial services industry," Venturo said. "Imagine being able to forgo storing your credentials with thousands of merchants, and instead pressing a button to have the bank confirm password and payment information at checkout. The future is bright as we continually improve how we deliver convenience and security."

A survey from American Bankers Association found an overwhelming majority of consumers — 82 percent — trust banks most to keep their payments safe. They were less likely to trust their information with non-bank alternative payment companies, retailers or telecommunication companies.

It may be a while before we see a button at checkout to "login and pay through my bank," however there's been a great amount of progress to keep information accessible yet secure. Visit U.S. Bank's website for more tips and more information on online security.

Happy holidays! Eat, drink and change your passwords!

Teri Charest is a Minneapolis-based member of U.S. Bank's corporate communications team. Earlier this year, Ponemon Institute for the 10th consecutive year named U.S. Bank the "Most Trusted for Retail Banking" for consumer privacy and data security.