04 May World Password Day: Keeping Your Password Secure
Everywhere we look online, we are constantly being warned about the security of passwords and what implications these have on our personal data, our internet profiles and our lives outside of the web. The main purpose of passwords has always been to provide a user with an identity, allowing them to log in to access secure information safely.
Passwords in Computing date back to 1961, first implemented in one of the early time sharing systems called CTSS created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Nowadays, passwords are used to secure everything from social media profiles, to tracking deliveries and even to view your banking details and make payments.
This means it is now more important than ever to use secure and safer passwords, to prevent anyone gaining access with any form of malicious intent.
So what are the best and the simplest steps we can take towards securing our data online?
Security experts advise to use longer and more complicated passwords with a minimum of 12-14 characters and utilising a combination of letters, symbols and numbers. The best passwords are passwords that are easy to remember, but are hard to guess. This often means combining a phrase with some numbers or special characters, that have some significance to you.
It’s common that many of us use names of our family, pets or significant others when creating a password. They’re easy for us to remember, but also, easy to hack. All it takes is hackers’ software to scan our social media platforms before they pick up the names of our nearest and dearest, and in turn, discover our password.
So, instead of using a pet’s name such as ‘Fido’, which would be easily guessable, use ‘FidoLincoln1992’ combining the pet’s place of birth, their name and the year you bought them to create something that wouldn’t be easy to guess, but would be simple to remember to you.
You may also think that it’s a clever idea to use symbols such as ‘@’ instead of an ‘a’, or a zero instead of the letter ‘o’. The trouble is, hackers are extremely aware of this too and will search accordingly, cracking the code with standard software in a matter of minutes.
Do not share your password with anyone
Although this can sometimes be unavoidable, try not to share your passwords with other people. It is much more secure to provide another user with their own user account rather than letting them know your passwords.
If you need to share a password with someone, do not write it down or send it using the web. This will prevent anyone else from intercepting this password and using it maliciously.
Do not use the same password anywhere else
Every day new security threats are revealed on the web, causing even some of the biggest tech companies (LinkedIn, Dropbox, Adobe) to have incidents where user data has been stolen.
Using separate passwords would prevent hackers from using that stolen data to access other accounts using the same email address.
If you find remembering different passwords for different platforms difficult, and prefer to use the same password for everything, you’re at risk of being hacked. All it takes is for one platform to have some data stolen, before hackers can access your saved bank details across the web on every e-commerce platform that you have ever used.
Using Two Factor Authentication
Two Factor Authentication is available on most major websites, and provides another security barrier before you are able to access your information. It does change how you log in, slightly:
Step One: Log In using your Username and Password
Step Two: Receive a Text Message, Email, or use an App on your phone to provide you with a one-time use code to log into this account
Step Three: Type in the code and log in.
This helps protect your security as you would need to have access to your email account, or your smartphone in order to log in to your account. Though this can add inconvenience, it goes a long way to protecting your personal data online.
Use Touch ID Where You Can
Where possible, particularly with apps on your phone, always use the option to log in using your fingerprint. Your fingerprint is entirely unique to you, therefore if the unfortunate incident arises where you leave your phone behind somewhere, or even worse, have it stolen, no one can access your apps containing sensitive information or bank details.
These days we use our mobile phones for everything, from surfing the web, to buying lunch using Apple Pay, and we often use our phones to download apps from e-commerce platforms which have easy and quick payment methods, making it more convenient for us to make fast purchases when on the go.
Making sure any apps, including your online banking apps, have Touch ID recognition easily ensures that no one else can access your payment details if you do lose your phone.
Do YOU have a strong password?
There are millions of users on the internet, using millions of different passwords, so chances of getting hacked may seem slim. However, as technology gets better and better, so does the software used by hackers, and it’s becoming easier for them to scrape thousands of passwords from users on different platforms all at once.
Here is a list of the top 10 WORST passwords… that people DO seem to use:
Use our tips and be clever with how you create a new password, mixing it up instead of sticking with the same password for everything. If you do discover you have been hacked, remember to change your password immediately.
We suggest that you should change your passwords every 90 days to increase security. If you do decide to change your password, make sure it is completely different to the previous 4 passwords that you have created for that account. Don’t just add a new number on the end!
Do you have any great tips for creating a password? Tweet us and let us know on @_Keyzo!