Metro tech experts weigh in on why you should change your passwords more often

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- It won't happen to me. That's the story online security experts hear all the time.

FOX4 talked with a series of tech experts in the Kansas City metro, all of whom agreed victims of online hacking never imagine a security breach will happen to them.

Whether you surf online using a phone or a personal computer, take a moment and change the passwords on the apps and websites you use. Tech experts said this effort to focus on cyber security is a reminder for everyone to be vigilant in protecting our online assets.

"You want to use a secure password," said Jon Schram, president at The Purple Guys.

Schram's company, which is based near Cambridge Circle in KCK, sits on the frontline of cyber-security. The Purple Guys, the IT security firm Schram helped found, provides online security for 170 companies in the Kansas City metro.

He pointed to cyber-breaches at major companies, such as Target and Equifax, where within the past year, customer passwords were stolen, and thousands of online accounts were compromised.

"Changing your passwords on a fairly regular basis keeps your log-in credentials to your banking site and your social media pages more protected. It will change them for you and keep them at a high security level," Schram told FOX4.

Schram recommends changing passwords on apps and websites every 90 days, and the more complex your chosen password is, the harder it will be to hack.

Schram said old recommended practices advised online users to choose a combination of numbers, letters and symbols. Now, aligning three to four words will suffice and be hard to hack, yet easy to remember.

"Complex can mean three different words that are completely unrelated, like 'socks, umbrella, rainbow.' Just capitalize the first letter in every word," Schram said.

Failing to change passwords can lead to identity theft, which can cost a victim thousands of dollars and personal time needed to recover.

"We have security in our name," Tyrone Watson-Ferguson said with a smile.

Watson-Ferguson, who at one point, worked in cyber-security for the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, now serves as a vice-president with Security Bank in KCK. He tells banking customers to change their passwords often and to keep them as private as one's social security number.

Doing otherwise could be a costly mistake.

"You have to prove you are who you are once your ID is stolen. Contact all the credit bureaus. Get all your accounts changed. It's a very rigorous process and that's only the start of it," Watson-Ferguson told FOX4.

For those online surfers who can't remember multiple passwords for multiple websites, Watson-Ferguson suggests using password-organizing apps such as Password Keeper or Secure Safe. Those apps will sign into secure websites for users while keeping personal info safe.

Schram warned that using the same passwords for multiple websites makes for an easier hack for online predators. The Purple Guys went as far as to purchase online identity protection for all the company's employees.

Schram said the majority of online users still don't understand the importance of password protection since studies show the most commonly used passwords are still "123456" and "password."