Passwords keep your every day accounts and personal information – everything from financial records to professional documents – safe and secure. They’re often the first line of defense, so it’s imperative to create complex passwords and manage them accordingly. If you want to ensure maximum security for your sensitive accounts, read on for password creation tips and secure password storage options.
How to create a strong password
The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. For maximum security, choose a password that is at least 12 – 15 characters long, with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and characters. Spread the numbers, characters, and capital letters throughout your password, rather than just at the beginning or end – which provides little added benefit.
If you’re struggling to create a memorable password, consider making a passphrase by using your favourite quote, song lyric, or things. For example, ‘Her3_comes_thE_sun’ or ‘piZza-corvEtte57’. Alternatively, you could use a password generator to create a strong password for you.
Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is used to verify your identity if someone logs onto your account from an unrecognised device. For example, Gmail will send a text message with a verification code once you’ve entered your username and password to reconfirm your identity. This provides an extra layer of protection, making it more difficult for cyber criminals to access your accounts.
Majority of the accounts you use every day – from banking to social media – offer two-factor authentication, so be sure to enable this service to protect your sensitive information.
Never Reuse Passwords
Website data leaks can leave you vulnerable to hackers, so always use a unique password for every online account. If malicious individuals become privy to your username and password for one website, they could potentially access multiple accounts.
Don’t change your passwords too frequently
It might sound counter-intuitive, but regular password changes may not necessarily increase security – in fact, recent research suggests it could actually do the opposite. Instead, it’s better to create a strong password that is more difficult to break in the first place, and change it no more than every six months to a year.
Use a password manager
Securely storing passwords can be tricky; you’ll want to avoid writing them down or storing them in a document on your computer – both of which are risky practises. If it seems impossible to memorise multiple passwords, consider using a password manager to store all your log-in information.
LastPass and Dashlane are two trustworthy and widely used programs which allow you to easily access and manage your passwords from one secure place. They both offer a host of useful benefits, including password generators, two-factor authentication, and encrypted password storage.