Using strong passwords is just one aspect of protecting online security and privacy. And it’s a very important one. Having your accounts hacked is what you should be most worried about, and a strong password is your first line of defense against hackers.
Passwords are the digital equivalent of house keys. They give you access to your network of friends, work colleagues and even banking services. Keeping your password private is important to protect your personal life, including your financial information. And a good password can be all that stands between you and a fraudster. Following strong password etiquette is definitely advisable. We’ve put together some do’s and don’ts to help you create the most secure password possible.
7 PASSWORD DO’S
1. Create memorable passwords that are hard for others to guess.Try to make your password as meaningless and random as possible.
A great tip for creating a memorable password unique to you is to use a sentence only you would remember and extract a password from that using the first digits of each word. For example, ‘My first job was at the Department of Employment and I earned £340 each month’ would equate to MfjwatDoEaIe£em. It’s a pretty strong password.
A random password may contain a few more numbers and symbols, but sing something personal to you makes it much easier to remember.
2. Make the password at least 12 characters long.
3. Change your passwords regularly.
4. Consider using a password manager. With such a plethora of websites that you have accounts and passwords for, it is near on impossible to have a different strong password for each one and remember them all. With a password manager you’ll just need to remember one strong password to get into the password manager. Password managers generate and store all of your passwords for you. There are free apps, but if you’re looking to sync across different devices you may need to pay a subscription.
5. Take internet security seriously. No matter how good your password is, if you’re in an internet café, it’s relatively easy for someone to be looking over your shoulder.
6. Use a password or fingerprints for your phone. Take security on your phone as seriously as your computer. Lose your phone, or worse get it stolen, and you’re passing over personal information. Also, someone posing as you could send a lot of inappropriate texts to everyone in your address book. Typically most phones are locked with a numerical code. Some new phones allow you to register your fingerprint for security.
7. Consider using multi-factor authentication. It does what it says on the tin. Commonly abbreviated to 2FA, it adds an extra step to your log-in procedure. Normally you log in with your username and password and that’s it. With 2FA you’ll be required to enter 2 out of 3 types of credentials before accessing your account.
7 PASSWORD DON’TS
1. Never give your password to anyone – even friends. Even if your friend is someone you trust implicitly, he or she may accidentally pass your password on to others. Worst, your friend becomes an ex-friend and abuses it.
2. Don’t use just one password for everything. Create different passwords
3. Include numbers, symbols, caps and lower case letters. A mix of characters makes the password harder to crack.
4. Don’t use a dictionary word or a combination of them. Any word on its own makes it ridiculously easy for imposters to crack. Hackers have dictionary-based tools to crack these types of password.
Password is absolutely the worst password ever. Even phrases are terrible, such as ‘my beautiful green house.’ The words make grammatical and logical sense. Random words would be better if that is the only option for you to remember the password. For example;‘golden marmite jumper ballet’. But it is still much, much safer to use the random mix of characters. And don’t use family names, pet names or a derivative of your name.
5. Don’t use obvious substitutions. A word isn’t strong just because you’ve replaced an O with a zero.
6. Don’t post your password in plain sight. Keeping your password written down on a post-it note stuck to your monitor is ludicrous. If you must write it down, keep it somewhere no one can find it.
7. Don’t fall for phishing attacks. Take extreme care before you click on any links asking you to log in, even if it appears to be from a legitimate site. Phishing scams are instigated by cyber criminals and are designed to steal personal information from your computer.