Passwords… Have You Changed Yours?

It’s time to change your passwords! If you haven’t changed your passwords recently, now is as good a time as any to update the passwords on your accounts to ensure computer security, account security and password strength for yourself and your organisation this new year.

We are running ‘Change Your Passwords Month’ in conjunction with Get Safe Online’s ‘Change Your Passwords Week’, with the aim of helping you increase your password strength and computer security.

Passwords

A strong password is a bit like the key to your home- once someone has it, they have access to everything, and you should change the locks immediately! But how do you know someone has this key? That’s part of the problem – Yes there’s a chance you might notice them change things, or do things with your property, alerting you to the breach. However, particularly in the digital world, it is even harder to spot and they could have access to your communications and actions without your knowledge indefinitely if you do not change your password, regardless of password strength or computer security!

Building on this, as has been seen recently in a number of high profile breaches such as Talk Talk, your information and passwords may be released and cracked at a later date (for example, this 10 Million password data dump talked about by Geek.com and changing your password regularly can really reduce the chances of the criminals getting hold of your current password.

When you change or create a password, there are a few things to consider:

• Don’t share it or write it down!

• Avoid just appending your original password. e.g. ‘cheese123’

• Use a combination of lowercase, uppercase, numbers and non-alphanumeric (!”£$%^&*) or as many of these as you are allowed

• Never use the same password. If one account gets breached, criminals will try those details in other places to see if you repeated your password.

• Use a password over 9 characters, this makes it harder to crack.

• A good method to consider is abbreviating a sentence, for example- ‘This is Bob’s personal Facebook account, keep out!’ could be ‘T18pF4,k0!’ and ‘I think Bob should give Lucy a 10% pay rise’ could be ‘1tB$gL410%pr’. Complex passwords, but easy to remember!

Some other ways to secure an online account are two-step (AKA two-factor or 2FA) authentication and security questions. These security measures (if you use them well) are a great way to secure your account in addition to increasing password strength, and can help you regain access to your account should you forget the password.

Two-step Authentication

AKA the Deadlock!

Two-step authentication is a method that usually involves sending a unique code to a previously chosen phone, or a code generator application on a smartphone to add extra security and login authentication to your account. This is a great way to secure your online accounts even more, because even if somebody works out your password they still can’t login unless they have your phone, and you will be alerted to a login attempt.

Security questions

This one depends on how you use it- If the question is something like ‘Where do you live’, ‘What is your cat’s name’ or ‘What is your Mother’s name’ then the answer may be obvious to someone trying to get into your account, not only making it easier for you to gain access if you forget the password but also easier for them not having known it in the first place. Pick a question with an answer that isn’t available to anybody but yourself.

Quick #BobTip: You can use the security questions like a separate password, and use a memorable phrase unrelated to the specific question. This way it’s easy to remember, but hard to guess!

If you would like to learn more about our services and learn more about securing your passwords, why not try out our free Perfect Passwords module here?

Bob’s changed his password, have you changed yours?

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