We have been on the internet for more than 30 years now, yet a lot of people still find it very difficult to protect their account. With different solutions popping up here and there, there is a need to protect our identity, records and data generally from attacks, cybercrime, and hacking as many people see it today. To start our web security week, we want to give you the necessary tips to keep your password safe online.
“According to a recent security study, the most commonly used web passwords are things like “123456”, “QWERTY”, “DATE OF BIRTH” and “password.” Sure, looking at these they are easy to remember which makes them easy to hack.”
Here are eight tips for ensuring your passwords are as strong and simple as possible.
- MAKE YOUR PASSWORD LONG
Hackers use multiple methods for trying to get into your accounts. The most rudimentary way is to personally target you and manually type in letters, numbers, and symbols to guess your password. The more advanced method is to use what is known as a “brute force attack.”In this technique, a computer program runs through every possible combination of letters, numbers, and symbols as fast as possible to crack your password. The longer and more complex your password is, the longer this process takes.
“Passwords that are three characters long take less than a second to crack.”
- INCLUDE NUMBERS, SYMBOLS, AND UPPERCASE AND LOWERCASE LETTERS
Randomly mix up symbols and numbers with letters. You could substitute a zero for the letter O or @ for the letter A, for example. If your password is a phrase, consider capitalizing the first letter of each new word, which will be easier for you to remember.
3. AVOID USING OBVIOUS PERSONAL INFORMATION
If there is information about you that is easily discoverable such as your birthday, anniversary, address, a city of birth, high school, and relatives’ and pets’ names do not include them in your password. These only make your password easier to guess.
“On that note, if you are required to choose security questions and answers when creating an online account, select ones that are not obvious to someone browsing your social media accounts.”
4. DO NOT REUSE PASSWORDS
When hackers complete large-scale hacks, as they have recently done with popular email servers, the lists of compromised email addresses and passwords are often leaked online. If your account is compromised and you use this email address and password combination across multiple sites, your information can be easily used to get into any of these other accounts. Use unique passwords for everything.
- CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS REGULARLY
The more sensitive your information is, the more often you should change your password. Once it is changed, do not use that password again for a very long time. Hackers could keep trying to crack your passwords no matter how strong you make them.
- AVOID USING SENSITIVE INFORMATION
It is easy for others to find out your date of birth, avoid including any number that can easily be linked to you in your password and do not use your anniversary date. Phone numbers are also easy to be linked to your account, keep your personal numbers out of your password. Do not include your child’s name in any password you create, this advice applies to any family member as well.
- AVOID EXTERNAL DEVICES
You can pretty much guarantee the safety of your personal devices but note that you cannot guarantee that same level of safety on a platform offered at a hotel, business center or a library. A good rule is that if you do not have permissions to install software on the computer, you probably should not be typing important passwords on that computer as well.
Also take note of network advertised on any Electronic signboard that says free WIFI at the airport or hotel
- START USING A PASSWORD MANAGER
Password managers are services that auto-generate and store strong passwords on your behalf. These passwords are kept in an encrypted, centralized location, which you can access with a master password. Many services are free to use and come with optional features such as syncing new passwords across multiple devices and auditing your password behavior to ensure you are not using the same one in too many locations. We have many of them out there but one of the notable ones are LastPass, KeePass, Secure, Crypted, Manyme and many more. See a list of password managers here.