Passwords are the first line of defence when it comes to internet security, but we can all be guilty of committing multiple password sins. The most common passwords are often made up of family names, dates of birth and favourite films or bands. While these options are memorable for you, they are also details that a hacker could easily find out.
We have come up with seven tips to help you create stronger passwords so you can stay safe online:
1. Use a password manager.
Password managers are perfect for creating strong, unique passwords for online accounts. The benefits of a password manager are only having to remember one master password, and if one of your passwords does happen to get caught in a data breach, the rest of your online accounts will remain safe. The best ones sync across desktop and mobile and come with 'autocomplete' functionality. We recommend LastPass.
2. Create long passwords.
The length of your passwords is more important than a complex combination of unique characters and uppercase letters. Once you get into the range of 12-15 characters, it becomes harder for a hacker to guess your password. It is also important to make sure you are not using pop culture references or simple pattern combinations. Random, non-dictionary words are the best way to go.
3. Don’t only put special characters at the start or end of your password.
If you do use special characters - which you will frequently be forced to do now -try not to bunch them all together at the beginning or end of your password. Many people follow this approach, which means hackers know what to look for. Instead, try spacing them out to make any chances of hacking much harder.
4. Don’t reuse the same password for different accounts.
Using the same password means one breach could put all your accounts at risk - and perhaps compromise important details in the process. It could even give hackers access to things like your online banking. The website Have I Been Pwned has nearly five billion compromised accounts on file.
5. Try not to change your password too often.
The less you change it, the less likely you are to forget it. Changing passwords too frequently usually means falling into predictable patterns like changing one number at the end - which makes passwords easier to crack.
6. Don’t let your browser remember your passwords.
This may seem convenient but the underpinning security of this is often undocumented and it does not require your password to be strong. If you need to store your passwords, use a password manager instead of trusting your internet browser.
7. If you have the option, use additional security measures.
Sometimes a good password is simply not enough. Many online services offer an added layer of protection in the form of a code sent to your phone, but if you want to step it up a notch, software solutions like Google Authenticator or YubiKey offer a strong two-factor authentication process. SMS verification should be enough for most people but do be aware that like many entry-level security precautions, it isn’t always perfect.
We hope these tips help you to stay safe online and create stronger passwords. If your business needs additional IT support, we offer a wide range of security services including Web Protection, Antivirus Software, Proactive Monitoring and Backup Solutions.