Get password smart

These days we access and share some of our most important information online – about ourselves, our family and our finances. Keeping in touch via email and social media, and managing our finances online, does make life easier but it also can open us up to cyber attack.

Cyber attacks can have profound, negative impacts on our lives, so it’s really important to improve our cyber security and protect our online accounts from attack. One of the best ways to do this by being password smart.

There's strength in numbers

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Use a string of words to create a strong password.

Long passwords are strong passwords. Use four or more words to make up your passwords. Not only will this be easier to remember, it’s as strong as a password that uses a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. Use a sentence or fun phrase that is unique to you. For example, popcornwithbutterisbest

Avoid using names, birth dates or addresses – this type of information is easy for people to find or guess.

Grant Sidaway from SeniorNet shares his tips for creating a strong password

One easy way to make a long and strong password is to use four or more words. It’s also easier to remember than a combination of letters, numbers and symbols but is hard for attackers to guess.


Embrace your uniqueness

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Have a unique password for every online account.

Set up a different password for each account. That way, if an attacker gets hold of one of your passwords, they won’t get access to all of your accounts.

Start with the most important ones first – like your email, banking and social media accounts.

Stephanie Clare from Age Concern shares her insights about unique passwords

I used to think it was ok to use the same password on all my accounts. I wasn’t aware that using the same password on my email, banking and social media accounts made me vulnerable to attacks and that I was putting my private information and finances at risk.

At first I thought, ‘why would anyone be interested in me?’ I now realise that attackers are not targeting me personally, they’re just looking for the low hanging fruit – the accounts that are easy to access to get private and financial information.


Mum's the word

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Keep your passwords a secret.

Store your passwords somewhere safe. We all struggle to remember multiple passwords. It’s OK to write them down – just make sure you keep them somewhere safe, separate from your computer and mobile phone. 

A password manager is another option – you only need to remember one password to access all your passwords.

Rob Pope from CERT NZ shares his solution for keeping passwords safe

Today we all use so many different online accounts, from banking to email to social media. A common complaint I hear is that it’s too hard to remember different passwords for different accounts. As a result, many people use the same password across multiple accounts.