Passwords are our first line of defence against bad actors on the Internet. Keeping your password secure is critical to maintaining the security of your online accounts whether you’re at work (using your Office365 account) or at home (using online banking or other essential services). Give yourself an immediate cybersecurity boost with these tips.
- Use a password manager. This article’s going to give you lots of information about creating complex, long, and unique passwords. These are more secure but they may be more difficult for you to remember. Use a password manager to store your passwords behind a single, secure master password (using the tips below!).
- Create a long, memorable passphrase. The length of your password matters much more than its complexity. Create a password of at least 12 characters to make it difficult to guess. Consider using a memorable phrase (e.g. ‘Derbyisinbritain’. Don’t put your personal information (e.g. your child or pet’s name) in your password.
- Consider adding a bit of complexity. It doesn’t hurt to throw in a mixture of lower-case, upper-case, and special (e.g. !$%#) characters to make your passphrase more difficult to guess (e.g. Derby!$inBrit@in!).
- Create unique passphrases for each of your online accounts. Make sure your passphrases for your online bank, for example, is different from your passphrases to social media services. Don’t share your passphrase with other people or allow anybody to watch you enter it into a system.
- Change your passphrases regularly. Make sure you change your passphrases regularly. While this won’t stop your password from being guessed, it will limit the amount of time a bad actor can use your account in the event of a breach.
- Check password strength analyzers where possible. Online account registration processes often check your passphrase before you create an account. Ensure your passphrase is marked as ‘strong’ before you create your account.
- Use multi-factor authentication (‘MFA’) where possible. Combine more than one authentication factors (e.g. your passphrase and a text message to your mobile phone) to protect your account from bad actors stealing your credentials.
- Only enter your passphrase where you know it’s safe. Avoid entering your credentials using public computers (e.g. internet cafes and libraries), over public Wi-Fi networks (e.g. airports and coffee shops), or on a web browser (e.g. Chrome or Firefox) to help keep them out of the hands of bad actors.