Creating new passwords for all our different online accounts is tiresome. That’s why most of us still tend to fall back on old favourites. The name of our pet with a 1,2,3 and an! at the end, the town we live in, our birth date, or our favourite sports team. All things we can easily remember. That’s all well and good were it not for the fact that we also tend to leave information about these things all over our social media profiles. After all, who doesn’t like to gloat when their team beats their archrivals, or to let the world know it’s their birthday. This combination, supported by the use of technology which generates thousands of password combinations at speed, makes life easy for hackers.
So, what should we do about it? How do you create (and remember) strong passwords? One way to strengthen your online safety does not actually require a change of password. It’s to enable Two Factor Authentication (2FA) whenever possible. This means that whenever you try to log in to an account you will receive a code by SMS on your mobile phone which you will need to enter to confirm your identity.
While 2FA is a great help, it is not something that is available with every website, and it does not stop cybercriminals from being able to guess your passwords. What options are there to manage passwords and keep them safe? The solution lies in making use of a password manager. It’s a straightforward process to install an application from your trusted app store or make use of a browser plugin on your laptop to manage your passwords.
With a password manager in place, you can set about creating passwords that will make life much tougher for criminals and not leave you scratching your head, trying to remember them. Things to keep in mind when creating strong passwords are length and complexity. Remember hackers want to be efficient in their operations and use strategies and technology to generate the simplest passwords first, knowing full well that this will be enough to gain access to many accounts. If your password is long, it’s likely to simply be too much bother to try and guess it. Increasing the complexity of your password with the use of different numbers and characters, not the standard 123 or !23, has the same affect.
One final tip when it comes to passwords. It’s never a good idea to write them down somewhere or to share them with others. You never know where that piece of information might end up, even by accident.
All the above does not mean you can no longer use things that are relatively easy to remember for your passwords. Just make it a line from your favourite film, rather than the name of the film itself. While creating and managing passwords is no one’s idea of fun, doing it properly is certainly a lot more pleasant than dealing with the consequences of having your identity stolen.