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Password Security – How Strong is My Password?

Laptop with lock medium sizePasswords are everywhere… from accessing your bank account and online shopping to using Facebook or even responding to an online blog. The problem is the more passwords we are forced to remember the more likely it is that you will use a weak password or use the same password across multiple websites.

Far too often we hear about security breaches, one of which is the recent attack in Russia where gangs hacked 1.2 Billion usernames and passwords. It’s a worrying thought but if you take steps to create the right kind of secure passwords and usernames, you will stand a better chance of fending off these cyber-criminals.

Being the helpful IT support company in Bristol, we have included a few tips below to help you choose passwords that are strong and unique with just a few simple things to remember but if you would like to read more see our July post about secure passwords or have a look at our favourite password protection site: Passpack.

 

 So, I hear you ask… “How Do I Change my Password AND stay safe?”

  1. Plan ahead… Don’t create a new password when you’re rushing to use a new website.
  2. Find out what can be used as a password; letters, characters, numbers, symbols etc. and how many. Password policy differs from website to website.
    Example: The website might say something like: “Create a password using 5-15 letters and numbers only” or “Create a password using 3-21 letters, numbers and characters”
  3. Make a Phrase… This might sound a bit odd but by creating a phrase which you can easily remember it can be easily adapted for other passwords. For example, take the following phrase:
    “My daughters wedding was on a sunny day in June 2014 and I love Facebook”
    Start by using the first character of each letter to give you a password of: mdwwoasdij2014ailf
  4. We can now make this even stronger by capitalizing some of the main letters: MDWwoaSdiJ2014aILF
    To use this phrase for another password, just change the last word/letter to relate to the website:
    For example – for Amazon, change the “F” for an “A”
    “My daughters wedding was on a sunny day in June 2014 and I love Amazon” becomes: MDWwoaSdiJ2014aILA.
  5. Mix it up and make it even stronger – here are two other ideas:
    1. Try substituting a letter with a similar looking number – example: replace every “i” with the number “1”
    so the new password would now become: MDWwoaSd1J2014a1LA
    2. Change a letter with a similar looking character – example: replace every “s” with a “$” sign so your new extra strong password, using both these techniques becomes: MDWwoa$d1J2014a1LA
  6. Create a rule which you will use regularly, remember it and stick to the same format. Example – You will always replace any letter “s” with an “$” and always replace any letter “i” with a “1”
  7. How often should you change your Password?
    It is generally advised that passwords should be changed regularly but I would argue that a password which is unique and strong needs to be changed only every 6 months.
    In this case I would change my phrase and hence the passwords, using the techniques mentioned above.

Remember: a STRONG password is a SAFE password and using your own set of rules will result in forgotten passwords being a thing of the past. Safe Surfing!

 

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