This information isn’t just valuable to us, it’s also valuable to cyber attackers. They spend their time trying and get their hands on it and if they do, it can lead to significant damage like financial loss.
The good news is there are simple steps you can take to help protect yourself, your finances and your family online. One of the easiest ways to do this is with long, strong and unique passwords on all your online accounts.
Why does long and strong matter?
Simple passwords are easier for attackers to ‘guess’. They use software that quickly works through different combinations of letters in the alphabet alongside your username to try and crack your password.
If your password is short, it can take a few hours. If your password is long and strong, it can take thousands or millions of years to crack.
Why does unique matter?
To be strong, a password also needs to be unique meaning it’s not used on any other accounts. If an attacker gets hold of one of your passwords, they can’t get access to all of your other accounts, and you only have to update the password on that one account (not spend a life time updating them all!)
Tip: If you use the same password on your accounts, it’s important you change them. Start with your banking, email and social media accounts as these hold a great deal of financial and personal information. Make sure your new passwords are long, strong and unique.
Passphrases make perfect passwords
How to create a long, strong password that’s easy to remember
Long passwords are strong passwords. An easy way to create a good password is to make a passphrase, that’s four or more random words. Not only are passphrases easier to remember, they’re as strong as a password that uses a long mix of numbers, letters, and symbols.
You can try making a passphrase that’s a sentence or fun phrase unique to you. For example, popcornwithbutterisbest or catseatpotatochips
Another idea is to look around you and pick four random items, for example Coffeelemoncupflowers
- Always use words that are random to you, and avoid using family names, birth dates or addresses – this type of information is easy for people to find.
- Sometimes an account will ask you to add numbers and symbols to your password, you can easily include these in your passphrases. For example, 7catsatepotatochips
Keep your passwords safe
A password manager is a good place to store your passwords, and means you only need to remember one set of login details to access all your other passwords. It’s like a digital safe and only you have the key.
If you’re not able to access a password manager, but need help remembering your different passwords you can write them down. It’s important to keep them somewhere safe away from your computer and phone.
Rob Pope’s tips for keeping your perfect passwords safe
Today we all use so many different online accounts, from banking to email to social media. I must have at least 20! And that means lot of different passwords to remember. As a result, many people use the same password across multiple accounts.