These days it’s hard to find any individual day that isn’t celebrating something. On the first Thursday in May, it’s apparently World Password Day. Regardless of whether or not you were aware of this, it is a great reminder to give your passwords some love.
It’s internet security 101 to have a strong password, but more often than not we’re seeing reports of data leaks and compromised accounts. So, what are some of the practices we should be getting into the habit of?
How to create a strong password
Using a strong password is the easiest way to increase your account security. That excludes password123456, ok?
A lot of websites will give you suggestions on how to create a better password nowadays. Some won’t even let you proceed unless you’ve created a login with the correct amount of numbers, letters and symbols.
It goes without saying that a password with more characters and a blend of capital characters, numbers and symbols interspersed will be much harder to guess.
Lindsay Brown, Vice President of Asia Pacific and Japan at LogMeIn, has a tip you might not have thought of. Use a phrase as your password.
“There’s always strength in numbers: consider using a phrase to not only lengthen your password, but also make it unique. For example, ThisIs4str0ngP4ssw0rd_!”
Now that you have a great password, please don’t re-use it. It’s a common habit but a dangerous one.
Jeffrey Kok, VP Solution Engineers APJ at CyberArk, says “if you re-use passwords on multiple sites or accounts, even if your password is complex enough and long, all it will take is for one of your accounts to be compromised to make all of your other accounts vulnerable.”
Enable two-factor authentication
To counter the rise in account breaches, many services now require multiple stages in order for you to log in to an account. This is often done via a code-generating app, a text message or email code.
The important thing to remember here is that wherever TFA is available you should enable it.
“If MFA [multi-factor authentication] is an option, use it. Yes, it’s a little more time-consuming, but it keeps you and your data much safer.” Mr Kok said.
Use a password manager
Password managers are a popular and easy way to keep track of your accounts, passwords and other sensitive information. A lot of them are available for free and offer a secure and convenient place to keep your private data.
Mr Brown recommended everyone trial a password manager, saying “there’s already so much we have to organise and sometimes it can be hard to keep up with the times. Having a password manager will save you the headache and keep everything secure with bank-level encryption.”
Apple devices have password management tools, as do many web browsers. Although there are a few good reasons you shouldn’t be auto-filling your passwords from your browser.
If you’d like some recommendations for a password manager, here’s what we suggest.
Change your passwords
Another handy feature I’ve come across is Apple’s password recommendations. Basically, if you save your passwords to your Apple ID, your device can cross-check your accounts to find out if they’ve been involved in a breach or if you’ve reused the same password. Apple will then alert you to which passwords need to be changed to secure your accounts.
You can also check if you’ve been involved in a breach with this handy site. If you have please, please, change your password immediately. If you can be bothered it also doesn’t hurt to change your passwords routinely every few months.
So, take this World Password Day as a good reminder to check on the health of your passwords and secure all your accounts.