In my last blog (Be safe online with these 5 tips), I mentioned 5 simple steps to help you and your staff to stay safe online. For the next few months, I will be covering each of these tips in more depth. So, today is all about passwords.

Why are passwords so important?

Someone asked me, are passwords out of fashion or obsolete in the short term ? Our brand new Smartphones have fingerprint readers or facial recognition. NFC systems (Near Field Communication) are here and we can have cards and dongles to use as authentication systems.

But, not so fast! While it’s true that passwords are not the most convenient way of authenticating yourself and they are inherently insecure, we should not be so quick to dismiss them.

They still are the simplest and easiest way of everybody to use them straightaway. You don’t need to own a phone to authenticate yourself. You are not stuck, if you forget your NFC card at home or if you lose your dongle on the train. Also, the two-factor authentication method is becoming very popular and this is a combination of passwords and a device. So, we are simply not ready for a world without passwords.

If that is the case, we might as well learn how to use them properly. It’s not that difficult!

The Risks of Using weak passwords:

Your passwords are the most common way to prove your identity when you are visiting websites, accessing your email accounts and using your computer/devices. So, having weak passwords just make it simple for a malicious person to be able to impersonate you and commit fraud and other crimes, like:

  • Accessing your bank account
  • Purchasing items online with your money
  • Impersonating you on social networking and dating sites
  • Sending emails in your name
  • Accessing the private information held on your computer

How to create strong passwords ?

There are no definitive rules for this. However, I’m going to share with you my favourite method.

The easiest way to create a strong password is to choose three random words, some numbers, symbols and a combination of upper and lower case. Example: Cloud#22blacK!jaguar7

Now you know how to create a strong password, right ? But, you have dozens if not hundreds of passwords. So, how do you create different strong passwords to all of your logins ?

I split my passwords into two categories. Personal and Professional passwords and I have a method of creating passwords for these two categories. I just want to mention that this is a method and I’m using some examples. You can apply this to anything and by the way, I don’t use any of these examples as my passwords.

Okay, so we need 3 words. So for my personal passwords, for the first word I will use car brands (I love cars), then for the second word I will use colours and for the last third word I will use countries (I like to travel). For the symbols I always use the same ones and always on the same location, (this make it easy to remember) and for the numbers I use a sequence that I can change every year for example.

Great, lets create a few examples following this method:

  • Renault@18reD#portugal
  • McLaren@19orangE#england
  • Ferrari@20whitE#italy
  • Mercedes@21silveR#jamaica

See, easy and I’m sure you can remember these passwords. So, for my professional passwords, I use the same method, I just change the 3 type of words to something completely different.

Looking after your passwords

  • Never disclose your passwords to anyone else. If you think that someone else knows your password, change it immediately.
  • Don’t enter your password when others can see what you are typing.
  • Do not send your password by email. No reputable firm will ask you to do this.
  • Change your passwords regularly. Use your common sense here. There are passwords that you should change more frequently than others. Although, change them all at least once a year.

Storing your passwords

You have a method now, so I’m sure you will be able to remember a few passwords. Although, some of us have loads of passwords to remember and even with a method it may be difficult to remember them all. So, in this case you should use a password vault. There are a number of password vaults available for you to use. Some you have to pay for and others are free of charge. These enable you to store all of your passwords in one, easy-to-access location so that you do not need to remember them all, or write them down. You merely need to remember one set of login details.

You should read reviews or get personal recommendations before entering your passwords into a password vault. If you want to know more about this, just give us a call. We can provide you with our Password Management System and give you some advice.

Conclusion

Yes, passwords are an annoyance and there are better ways to login using your fingers or face for example. However, passwords are not going to disappear in the short term. So, we need to use them properly. I hope that my method and these examples will help you to create better and stronger passwords and make it easy to memorise them. If you think this article is useful, please feel free to share it with your staff, colleagues or friends.

If you have some concerns about your IT security system in your company or you want a second opinion. Then contact us for a Free IT Audit here.