Secure Passwords

Updated: Mar 8, 2020

Secure passwords

Passwords are used to protect your information and maintain your privacy from being accessed by anyone else except yourself. Most accounts allow you to choose your own password. They are used everywhere from social media accounts to school emails. Ensuring you have a strong memorable password is important in protecting you from others accessing or “hacking’ you accounts.

Hackers wanting to access your account will be looking to crack your password. They will often look at information that is already available to them. They will look for patterns or common practices in creating passwords to guess yours eg your cat’s name. There is a lot you can do to ensure you have created a password that is STRONG, in other words difficult to guess.

Not just passwords:

A password is just one way of securing access to your accounts. Two-Factor Authentication uses a combination of methods to access an account. All parts need to be accurate to enter the account. These methods can include a PIN, a password or a series of security questions. A security key, a card that is coded with personal information, can generate a code to be entered, is common method used in online banking. Body parts, fingerprints, facial recognition and corneal scanning, as a mode of accessing your secure information are becoming more common place, especially in the newer mobile phone models. Since body parts are unique to the individual, they may be safer in the longer term. They are now being used in biometric passports. However further technological advancements and prohibitive costs prevent these modalities being used in every day life to securing all our information and privacy. In the meantime STRONG passwords are still needed to secure your privacy and information.

Should I change my password regularly?

Previously people have been advised to change their password regularly. The reason was that if a password was stolen or hacked, a regularly changed password could reduce the window available to the hacker to access your information. However in reality, if your password is stolen or hacked then you should change your password immediately, not wait for the password to expire. Also when people are asked to change their password regularly then they tend to make small and predictable changes to their existing password making it easier to guess eg Welcome1 changing to Welcome2. Organisations are now starting to abandon their policy on pushing users into regularly resetting their password.

Popular passwords that should not be used:

password; qwerty; 123456; 12345678; iloveyou; 111111; 123123

What makes a STRONG password?

✓ Length-12 character minimum-The longer the password the better

✓ Complexity-include Capital and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols- a mix of different character types makes the password stronger

✓ Separate letters, numbers and symbols to remove any familiar sequencing- alternate or mix numbers, letters, and symbols so common patterns are difficult to guess

✓ Use nonsense sentences eg Truckseat8spiders£

✓ Random unrelated words interspersed with numbers and symbols eg Fox9River!Cheese%

✓ Memorable-Ensure your password is memorable

✘ Avoid obvious words eg ‘password’ or combination of words eg ‘schoolsucks’

✘ Don’t use familiar names or dates eg your sibling or parents name or your date of birth

✘ Don’t use obvious substituti0n$

✘ Don’t write your password down

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