Think about everything that passwords protect: internet banking, phones, files, social media… It’s well worth making sure that they are secure!
Protect yourself online by following these rules.
DON’T store your passwords somewhere easy to get to
No unlocked notes on your phone with all your passwords on, no lists in your desk drawer, no word documents named “passwords” on your computer, and certainly no sticky notes around your computer!
Make your passwords difficult to find if you must have them written down at all.
DO change your passwords from time to time
I’m not telling you to change them once a week or even once a month. But when your gut is telling you that you’ve had the same password for too long, and if there is a possibility that someone could know it, change it.
DON’T make your passwords too short
The longer your password is, the safer it is – did you know that the minimum recommended password length is 14 characters?
Lots of random characters and upper-case letters won’t be as much help if your password is only 6 characters long – all that’ll do is make you forget it.
DON’T make a password that can be easily guessed
Many people use words that mean something to them – a football team, a family name, or a date of birth for example. This is information that someone could easily find out about you, so avoid it! You should also avoid any patterns (1234 or abcd) and common words (football or password).
Try to be as arbitrary as possible – imagine the person trying to guess it knows everything about you, then choose a word that is completely unrelated, and split it up with a random character (? Or @) if you can.
DO use a password manager
If you have passwords to lots of different things and haven’t got a hope of remembering them all (like most of us!) then get yourself an app to help, such as LastPass or 1Password.
Just make sure that you can remember the password for the app!
DO use different passwords for different accounts
If someone manages to figure out the password for your Facebook, and all your passwords are the same, they then have access to your internet banking, your computer, and all your other accounts. Don’t use the same password just because it’s easier to remember one – use different passwords and store them in a password manager for better security.
DO lie on security questions
Why? Because someone can find out the answer to a security question that you’ve answered truthfully. If it’s a completely fabricated answer, they’ll have no way of knowing what the answer is.
Try this: choose your favourite book or film and use that to answer questions. If it asks you what street you grew up on, use a prominent address from the film. If it asks you who your best friend if, use your favourite character.
DO log out in public places
This goes without saying – if you’re on Facebook on a computer in the Apple store, you should make sure you log out before leaving, for example. But even if you’re in the library or internet cafe on your laptop and you pop out to go to the bathroom, you should log out.
DON’T send a password via email or online messaging
You should never give anyone your password for anything – ever. But if you do, for some reason, need to tell your friend a password, you should do it in person or over the phone. Don’t give it to them in a way that there will be any record of.