Cybercriminals thrive on compromised passwords, and make a great deal of money out of them. This is precisely why the importance of setting unique, secure passwords cannot be over-emphasised, especially as we are increasingly offering up so much personal information online and more and more organisations are falling victim to cyber breaches. Read on as we share our experts’ advice on keeping passwords safe.
How to set a secure password
The days of using your name and date of birth as your password are long gone. If you are going to stay safe online, then you need to be crafting unique, complex passwords, with different logins for different sites.
It is vital to avoid using your name or those of your family or pets as passwords. Dates of birth, addresses and phone numbers are out of bounds too. All of this information is publically available in some form or another, and cyber criminals will stop at nothing to use the likes of social media to work out passwords.
Real words are also off limits. Password cracking tools used by hackers make it easy to guess what you’re using to login.
Instead, use a mix of special characters, letters and numbers. By adding in the likes of # or $ you can significantly increase the complexity of a password, which will reduce the chances of a cybercriminal hacking into your account. Longer passwords are also harder to break. A minimum of 10 characters is recommended.
If you are stuck for a password that you know is secure but you are able to remember, try modifying a phrase, film or song title by adding in special characters and numbers.
Using a password manager
If you have multiple online identities then you will benefit from using a password manager. These can help in a variety of ways and are one of the best ways to store passwords.
Firstly, they will auto-fill your passwords instantly, so you don’t have to remember them.
Secondly, they will suggest and remember strong passwords for you, so you never have to worry about setting and recalling them.
Finally, they will tell you if your current password is weak, and offer a more secure replacement.
There are numerous password managers to choose from. Some are free, whilst others require a monthly, annual, or lifetime subscription. Suggestions to take a look at include LastPass, 1Password and DashLane.
More tips on how to keep passwords safe
The following tips should prove useful in your quest to secure your passwords:
Never write passwords down
Be sure to resist the temptation to write passwords on post-its and stick them on your monitor or keep them in the back of your desk drawer. Hackers have been known to resort to rummaging through rubbish to find passwords.
Take care on public networks
If you’re using a public network, such as coffee shop Wi-Fi, then you should use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you are logging in to online platforms. This is the most secure option you will find to browse the web and access personal accounts on public networks. VPNs work by encrypting your data, acting as a protected tunnel between your browser and the server.
Always be mindful of anyone watching as you type a password in too. You are best to use a password manager as previously mentioned, as this will prevent you having to type in your login details every time.
Change passwords regularly
Be sure to change your passwords on a regular basis, especially those used for online banking and other financial accounts. The recommendation is to update every one to two months.
Computer login passwords should be changed at least every three months. If you continue to use the same password over prolonged periods then you could be putting your personal data at risk should a data breach occur.
Never use the same password on different accounts
If you’ve used the same password across multiple accounts and a hacker finds its way in to one account, then effectively they will have access to all your accounts.
Never login on other people’s computers
If you login to an account on someone else’s computer then your password could be stored on there without your knowledge.
Use multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA), also known as two-factor authentication (2LA), is a method of logging in that requires a second layer of evidence to prove you have a right of access. Microsoft states that enabling MFA can reduce account compromise up to 99.9 per cent. This can decrease the chance of stolen credentials being used to almost zero.
Online security and total peace of mind, courtesy of PC Docs
At PC Docs, we offer a variety of IT security solutions, all of which can be fully tailored to suit the individual requirements of your business and workforce, including office based and remote workers.
Why not get in touch with our friendly team of experts to learn more about how we can help you secure your business online?