Following the big reveal of 25 of 2016’s most common passwords, a large part of addressing and fixing the issue comes down to educating internet users about how they can protect themselves using best password practices.
If you didn’t catch the article, some of those common passwords include “123456”, “google”, “password” and, of course, our old favourite “qwerty”.
What Are Best Password Practices?
Password-cracking technology is becoming more and more sophisticated – in fact, some relatively affordable machines can brute-force billions of random possibilities every second. Best password practices can help to build up a good defence against such attacks, protecting you and your valuable private data.
There are a number of ways that you can increase your password security. Some of them are no-brainers, while others may be news to you. Let’s start with the basics.
The Basics of Password Security
Firstly, if you can feel your fingers moving towards that old reliable “qwerty” monstrosity, you stop it. You just stop it now, you. Many password-cracking applications will try these first, leaving you highly at risk. Using “qwerty”, “poiuy”, “123456” or anything like that is highly unwise, and a lazy attempt at half-hearted security that hackers thrive on. Let’s get creative, and come up with something a little better, shall we?
You should also avoid using common or easy-to-guess words that are personal to you in some way. This includes your birthday, your name, your kids’ names or your favourite football team. A good password should be indifferent, objective and free of sentiment.
Mix It Up
A common method of creating new passwords is to include a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Further still, you could use a mix of lower and upper case letters. Many websites will require that you adhere to some form of password policy that enforces these rules, and some will even provide a handy password strength indicator.
As humans however, we’re pretty rubbish at coming up with random numbers and sequences. Consider using a random password generator to help – there are plenty out there, and you can customise the best ones to generate passwords of a certain length, consisting of a mix of letters, numbers and special characters.
A passphrase is a collection of random words that make up a sentence that only you know. Being a sentence, it will be easier to commit to memory than a collection of letters, numbers and special characters. Again, avoid personal phrases such as “ilove[insert football team here]” or “mykidsarebrilliant”. Ideally, your passphrase will be entirely random, decreasing the chances that a shifty algorithm will string them together to gain access to your online accounts. Just as with regular password generators, there are also plenty of passphrase generators out there for you to use. Let the robots do the work.
You should also throw in some replacement characters in there, and try capitalising random letters. You could even try replacing spaces with numbers, or substituting “S” with “$”.
Don’t Use One Password
This should go without saying. Once your password has been identified, hackers will use other software to make access attempts on other commonly used website, such as banking, emails and other private accounts. If you’re using one password, you could be giving them a golden skeleton key.
Use a Password Manager
It’s unreasonable to assume that you’re going to be able to remember all of your passwords, especially if you’re following the above. You might find using a password manager is a good idea. Such services will generate passwords for you, encrypt them, and keep them all safely locked away in an area that only you have the key to. Keeper Security provide such a service, as well as many others. Some are free with limited features, others are paid with everything unlocked for you – for some perople, a monthly fee is worth the added security. Decide what’s best for you.
Keep It To Yourself
Again, this is a no-brainer. Don’t give your password out. Aside from remote threats such as hackers in other countries, anybody you meet in real life has the potential to use your private data maliciously if you give them the chance. We’re not saying trust no-one…
…but trust no-one.
Put it into Practice
Hopefully this article has given you the information you need in order to protect yourself online using best password practices. If you think you might have stored passwords for your various accounts that might be at risk by not following the above guidelines, consider a security overhaul! It’s better safe than sorry, and it’s certainly better to do it now than wait until it’s too late.
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