Keeping Passwords Secure

The dos and the don’ts of password security

The number of companies being hacked is on the increase and the media is reporting these type of stories more often. So, what is the best way to keep your passwords and your data secure?

Here are our top ten tips for password security:

  1. Don’t store your password where it can be easily found – The chances are, if you’ve left them somewhere you can get to, then someone else can too. Sticky notes or lists hidden in your desk drawer should be removed. The same can be said for storing passwords in word documents or Excel files, because if someone wants your data, that will be one of the first places to look. If your passwords are easy to find, whatever they’re protecting is going to be easy to compromise.
  2. Do not invent your own “clever” password storage scheme – You may think that your encrypted spreadsheet or database is tough to crack, but you would be wrong. It’s more than likely it will be easily accessed by hackers. Instead use a password manager such as KeePass to store your passwords.
  3. Don’t make short passwords – To be safe from password cracking programs, the minimum password length we recommend is 12 characters.
  4. Regularly change your password – This will reduce your chances of getting hacked and is best practice. Security experts suggest every 30 days.
  5. Do make passwords easy to remember (but not easy to guess) – By this we mean that sometimes the most obscure passwords are easier to remember. The longer the character count the harder it is for a computer to crack. Use special characters, and a mixture of upper and lower case, as some password cracking programs still have problems with them.
  6. Do use a different password for every site – Use a password manager, so you don’t have to remember all of them. And since you don’t have to remember them, you don’t even have to make them easy.
  7. Have fun with your security question answers – Phishing attempts are getting more sophisticated, some even use online quizzes to gather the information that security questions often ask for – for example, “Enter your pet’s name and the street you grew up on to learn your superhero character’s name”. Be aware of the information you are giving out.
  8. Use common sense – If you get an email with a weird attachment, don’t open it; don’t install software from random websites; don’t hand over your password. No-one will ever have a legitimate reason to ask for it; hackers and scammers will ask you for it.
  9. Install anti-virus software and keep it updated – Prevention is better than cure
  10. Think of passwords differently – Use a passphrase instead of a password will help create a longer password. Think about as song lyrics, a movie quote, magazine name or book title.
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