Passwords, Passwords, Passwords

I know I know, I’ve said it before, and I’ve even given you tips on how to create a unique one. But recently I’ve had a number of experiences with customers and friends where a poor password has caused trouble.

It’s never been more important to keep your personal details and data safe, no longer is it just good enough to have an updated anti-virus application installed – you the user are just as important as that software for preventing issues.

Now without wishing to sound like a “scare-monger” I’m going to explain again, in detail about password security, along with some ideas on keeping your details safe.

The first line of defence for many users is a password on your account on a website – now this may be ok so long as your password is secure, but how many of you can say your password meets the following criteria:

– 8 characters or longer
– UPPER CASE and lower case letters
– N3mb3r5 (numbers) included
– Symbols included, such as ! or &

I’m going to stick my neck out and say not a lot of you! Did you know that the top 10 most common passwords are the following:

• 1. password
• 2. 123456
• 3.12345678
• 4. qwerty
• 5. abc123
• 6. monkey
• 7. 1234567
• 8. letmein
• 9. trustno1
• 10. Dragon

If your password is among this list then you need to change it. It’s as simple as that.

Here’s some quick tips to creating a new one, use a combination where you substitute letters for numbers, and vice versa, and include random capitalization. For example, 19 Peach Place becomes 0ne9peacHpl! note the random exclamation mark at the end. You can create a sentence and then pull the first letter from each word, substituting numbers or even symbols were possible. Turning a sentence like, “Zachary Taylor was the twelfth president of the United States,” into ZTwt12potUS. You could use a “Password Generator” that creates random passwords for you online, just make sure you note down what is created!

Once you’re happy with the new password you can always check it’s security – why not head over to Google and search for “Microsoft Password Checker” the top link will take you to Microsoft’s checker which gives you an indication of it’s strength – don’t worry nothing is recorded on this site.

Now you have your new password, and you’re happy its strong don’t get comfortable, I’d recommend changing it every 3 months at the longest, and you should really use a different password for each website you have an account with. I know it’s boring and hard to remember, but it’s a small price to pay compared to being a victim of fraud!

To keep a track of these passwords you can download and install a “Password Manager” – head over to my blog to find the links! Or there’s no harm in keeping them recorded on a physical bit of paper, just not stuck to the side of the computer!

And finally, keep your password recovery options up to date so that a hacker can’t take over an abandoned e-mail account. Some services provide you with an option to register your mobile number so you can get a text to reset the password.

Thanks for reading, I know it’s a lot to take in and it can be a bit daunting, but it’s worth it. If you have any queries, why not get in touch, or follow me on Twitter: @jhitsolutions

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