Password Safety

cyber security on a laptop

How do I improve my password safety?

It’s a nightmare, every-one expects you to use an online username and password. But, password safety is vital to your security online that you don’t use only one and you don’t use the same password with important websites – ones like retail or banking sites.

If you do use one common, or even a few easy to remember passwords, you increase your risk to online attacks as your password becomes the key to all your data, photos, bank accounts, everything. So, it is important to use different and strong passwords.

A strong password is one that the criminal’s computer or algorithms can’t easily find or decode. In practice, you have to balance password strength with being able to remember the password!

Here are some tips to build your own password. Remember:

  • Using ordinary words and phrases that make “sense” – usually result in a weak password;
  • If you use birthdays, relative’s names, your football teams – that’s both a weak password and it can be linked to you (see Identity theft below).
Strong Passwords

A strong password is one that uses keys from the whole keypad. Instead of 26 letters you have over 40 keys – the odds of breaking your password is very much smaller. Here is a suggestion of how to construct a strong password:

  1. Try three unconnected words (at least 6 letters) that you’ll remember say – jam, silver and coat,
  2. Include capitals in the string – “JamSilverCoat”;
  3. Add a year “19JamSiverCoat68”:
  4. Tack on one or two squiggles “!19JamSilverCoat68?”.

While not recommended, it might be better to write down your passwords and keep them safe in your house than use weak passwords as you have less chance of being burgled than getting phished.

Use a Password Keeper

Rather than write down passwords, you can use password keepers on your computer which are encrypted or specialist ‘safes’ from the Apple or Microsoft stores. They only need one strong password to access, generate and remember strong passwords and autofill forms. Read more here.

Use Two-factor verification

Two factor verification (or authentication) is particularly good for your security online. Critical web access protection using two-factor systems is becoming a commonplace option with social media. Many banks and other financial services require it as part of the login process.

Two-factor verification requires you to enter a special security code each time you login (typically sent to your phone or generated by an application).

Remember: No password is unbreakable so change them every now and again!

Also, remember that your email address is important as well! Read about why hackers want your email address.