Password security: safe and simple
How many passwords do you rely on to access social media platforms, work email, online banking, favourite online shops and music streaming services, during an average day? In all likelihood, you have too many passwords to remember them all and, if you can memorise them all, they may not be safe enough.
What is a safe password?
Only a complicated password is a safe password. Length and unpredictability can help to create the most secure log-in details. For maximum password security, follow these simple tips to ensure your online transactions are safer and you aren’t at risk of having any of your personal profiles compromised:
- Choose a password with at least ten characters, consisting of large and small letters
- Mixed these randomly with various numbers and special characters
- Avoid using a question mark (?) or ampersand (&) as these characters are not always compatible with online entry forms
- Keep individual passwords for separate accounts
- Do not store any passwords digitally or on paper
- Change your password regularly
Hackers can easily crack simple passwords by following traditional password formats such as petname123 and affordable software is now readily available to assist hackers in cracking personal passwords.
If you’re struggling to find a password, using password generator software may help. Alternatively, secure password generators are available online free of charge.
Above all, it is extremely important to create multiple passwords, ideally one for each account. This is especially applicable when accessing user accounts tied to bank or credit card information. If a shared password is compromised, multiple accounts will be at risk and managing the impact becomes a much larger task.
Storing and managing passwords
Storing and managing passwords is just as important as their length and complexity. Safe storage can be tricky. Leaving a document containing passwords on your computer is just as risky as having them written down, but for many people relying on memory to recall multiple passwords isn’t effective.
However, there are a number of programmes available to help with your password managment. So-called 'password managers' including Passpack or Dashlane (both free of charge) can help you to securely save and manage your passwords. Some password managers also offer a plug-in for your browser so you needn’t load an extra program when looking for a password.
No matter how meticulous you are, the best password is useless if a spy program monitors what you enter on the keyboard – a practice known as key-logging. Regular software updates and an up-to-date virus scanner can help to protect your accounts. If you access a wireless local area network (WLAN), be sure to check the connection is secure and encoded when logging in. A web address that begins https. is a fairly safe indication that your activity is secure. Alternatively, if you’re remotely accessing work documents your IT support team will be able to confirm the network is secure.