How to create secure online passwords.

Believe it or not, passwords have been part of our lives for almost 50 years.

 

Though technology has come a long way since then, the need for passwords is more prevalent than ever before.

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We all have multiple online accounts, many of which store personal data, bank cards, credit cards, addresses – an identity thief’s every need. Securing your accounts is key to preventing fraud.

Complexity

Passwords need to be complex to be a successful form of defence. Shockingly, around 51% of people currently use the same passwords for both work and personal accounts. With today’s data protection laws and regulations, this could result in serious financial and reputational consequences for employers.

To combat stats like this, more companies are making use of password vaults in an attempt to keep complex passwords safe for individual users within their company. However, they too need a password that, in theory, should be more secure than the ones it’s protecting. Most individuals don’t put this into practice. 

While complex passwords can seem impossible to remember, there are a few tricks that can help with this…

Password Managers

As mentioned above, using a password vault is one of the safest ways to manage different online logins. Most smartphones nowadays will automatically save passwords for you, with iPhones even suggesting ‘Strong Passwords’, keeping track of when you’ve used the same password on multiple websites and notifying you when your login details have appeared in data leaks.

Alternatively, there are various inexpensive subscription-based password vaults available.

Having a password manager greatly decreases the number of logins that you’re required to remember. How then do you choose a secure password to prevent fraudsters from getting their hands on all of your online accounts?

Creating a strong password

Firstly, the longer the password, the better. Generally, you should be aiming for at least 15 characters. 

Secondly, you’ll need to use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols to prevent hackers from guessing obvious passwords.

  • Substituting some letters for numbers or symbols can decrease the odds of fraudsters guessing your passwords

  • Use at least 1 special character e.g. %, £, $

  • Avoid repeating characters, symbols and numbers in succession or otherwise

  • These techniques will take your “password” and turn it into a “pa$5w0rD”

Just adding a number in the place of a letter makes a password far more secure than it would be otherwise, substituting symbols and numbers for look-alike characters are even better for variation. 

How to select a password

The safest option when choosing a password is to select three or more random words that will be memorable to you, and to use these as a starting point. The words could be significant geographical locations, favourite musicians or albums, names of family members – anything that you’ll find easy to remember. 

Once you have your combination of words, you can begin substituting numbers and adding symbols. For example, ‘syncmoneyapp’ could become ‘5yncm0n3y4pp’ or, even better, ‘5sync_m0n3y_4pp’. Making these changes to a memorable word or phrase of your choice is not too difficult to remember, but is also very secure.

Keep it simple

While picking a complex password is a necessity for keeping our online, personal and work accounts secure, the process doesn’t have to be complicated. Using a password manager can help to avoid repetitive use of the same, easy-to-guess passwords.

Ensuring that you use random combinations of words or phrases that will be memorable to you personally makes guessing your passwords harder for hackers. Whatever word, phrase or characters you pick as a password can always be strengthened with the use of numbers and symbols.

"Passwords are one of the most essential lines of defence against fraud - making them impossible to guess is imperative."
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