In today’s digital landscape, safeguarding against potential cyber threats and hacking attempts is paramount. One of the most often overlooked yet simplest methods of prevention lies in the strength of your password.
While the age-old advice of crafting a “strong password with a minimum of 12 characters, including letters and numbers” still holds true, many individuals’ resort to easily guessable options, such as using common phrases with minor modifications, like replacing an “S” with a “$.”
However, cybercriminals have evolved, employing automated software that can make hundreds of guesses per minute to breach your accounts. These tools utilise dictionaries of words to systematically guess passwords, even incorporating common symbols, numbers, or character variations. In some cases, hackers turn to social media to deduce your password based on your interests, family names, and interactions.
While this may sound alarming, the solution isn’t to abandon your online presence altogether. Instead, there are effective methods to ensure your password remains resilient, robust, and easy to remember.
Dealing with Password Overload
Using the same password across all your accounts is just as vulnerable as having a weak password. Consider the numerous systems that require passwords, including accessing your computer, email accounts, social networks, online banking, documents, bill payments, and membership subscriptions. Securing each of these passwords is crucial but remembering them all can be taxing. The National Cyber Security Centre recommends keeping passwords for longer periods, as frequent changes often lead to weaker selections and the temptation to jot them down – a risky practice.
To stay vigilant, we advise changing passwords, especially those linked to sensitive data, every six months.
Utilising a password manager like KeePass allows you to manage passwords securely. All your passwords are stored in a single database, locked with one master password or a key file. You only need to remember this master password to access your entire database. Encryption, using the most secure algorithms available, safeguards your details and keeps hackers at bay.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) has become increasingly common, particularly with the rise of remote work. Access is granted only when the user provides two or more pieces of evidence, such as a password and a security code sent to their phone. You may have encountered MFA with your ATM card or mobile phone, which uses card and PIN authentication, alongside fingerprint/face recognition and a passcode. Just as we wouldn’t compromise on security for these uses, why risk it for your business?
If you’re unsure about creating a strong and secure password, consider these simple steps:
Passwords to Avoid:
Why? It’s a common hobby, easily discoverable from various sources, relies on common letter substitutions, and often uses traceable numbers like your date of birth.
Why? It’s an overused phrase and can be easily identified from various sources.
Why? It’s excessively complex and hard to remember.
Consider These Instead
A passphrase comprised of random words like “monkey and lion road a bike” is much more challenging to hack. Visual stimulus makes the phrase memorable.
For enhanced security, substitute letters for numbers and special characters. We recommend a mix of two capital letters, a number, and a special character for optimal protection.
By following these guidelines, you can bolster your online security and protect your sensitive information effectively.