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Making your passwords stronger and working harder for you

21 May 2013

As we hear more and more about online cyber criminals, hacking and phishing, we are reminded to make sure that we have strong passwords to protect ourselves in the online environment.  But what exactly is considered a strong password?  I will outline some tips and hints on password security that may help you in creating secure passwords and protecting you from potential identity fraud (as discussed in previous articles).

Strong password = Length x Complexity x Unpredictability

The length of your password should be eight characters or more.  The use of random symbols, numbers and capital letters will make your password more complex.  Dictionary words in any language, sequences (eg abc, 123, qwerty, etc) and repetition (333, xoxo, 1818, etc) should not be used as they are predictable.  For example, snakes123 can become $n@k3S1t3. 

The more characters, random symbols, numbers, capital letters and unpredictable your password is, the harder and longer it would take for hackers to crack.

Here are three simple steps to create a strong password which makes sense to you, easy to remember and hard to guess:

1.     Use a sentence from your favourite song lyric, poem or quote.

But no matter how far or how wide I roam I still call Australia home

2.     Use only the first letter of each word.

bnmhfohwiriscah

3.     Make it complex by adding capitals, symbols and numbers

bNmhf0hW1R1$c@h (letters in the 2nd half of the alphabet are in capitals and where possible used symbols and numbers to replace letters)

Having a strong password does not completely remove the risk of your online information being compromised.  You still require computer protection from viruses and malware through up to date and legitimate software and using appropriate settings.

I would like to leave you with some hints and tips about your password, to further protect you from identity takeovers and compromises:

 

  • Change your passwords regularly.  It is recommended that you change your passwords every three months.
  • Use different passwords for different systems and sites.  This will prevent the scenario where once your password has been discovered; hackers have access to all the systems and websites you use.
  • Avoid writing down your passwords.  If you need to keep a record of your passwords, make sure it is saved on your computer in an encrypted file or written down and locked away for safe keeping.
  • Try not to use relatives, pet names and general information about yourself.  If you do, then ensure that you add complexity to your password as discussed earlier.

 

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