Century IT blog

Is your password strong and secure?

February 8th, 2012

In today’s day and age, we have to use passwords for almost everything online where we need an account. Be it when we sign up to an internet forum, when we login to an instant messenger client or when we do online banking, we always come across that page which will ask for a password.

 

It’s often tempting for many just to think up a very short password that you can remember easily, perhaps a password that you will use across many different accounts on the internet. But in doing this, you are greatly putting your account’s safety and even your personal details in danger.

There are a few steps to having the most secure and safest password, and all of them will help improve your accounts security just a bit more.

 

  • Try to make your password more than 8 characters long, longer than 12 ideally.
  • Use upper case and lower case letters as well as including numbers
  • Adding symbols in, like exclamation marks, question marks, full  stop and slashes
  • Don’t stick to any words that would be found in a dictionary, if you do so, you instantly put your account more in the path of harm’s way.

If you combine a little bit of each and every one of these things you’ll have a much more secure password for your account in no time!

Don’t just leave it at that though! Always avoid using the same password for different websites or accounts, because if a hacker manages to figure out one of your passwords, they will have access to a lot of other accounts too. This could even involve your bank account and details!

A few simple tactics you could use to come up with new secure and safe passwords could include:

Think of a small phrase that could relate to the account you want to make a secure password for. A small phrase for my computer logins screen could be, “I hope nobody hacks my computer!” Once you’ve got this, take the first letter of each word so that in this case you end up with something like, “Ihnhmc!” Ideally, a longer one would be better, but this is a good basis to start with, if you can add in more symbols or some numbers into this or even just capitalise every other letter you are well on your way to a very secure password that might look something like, “!hN#mC!”.

Letters like “I” can be substituted with the exclamation point “!” as can “E” with “3”. Many other letters can also be replaced with similar looking numbers or symbols. An alternate way to lengthen and further secure your password, is to insert the website name or account halfway through it. For example, if you were creating a password for your Windows Live Messenger account, you could write “!hNwindows_live_messenger#mC!” This of course is a much longer password and will be near on impossible to be cracked with brute-force methods.

Another method of creating a more secure password, would be to come up with one that, when typed, makes your hands move from the left side to the right side of the keyboard very often. If you make one with this technique, you’ll significantly reduce the chance of someone looking over your shoulder seeing exactly what you typed.

The most simple way of instantly boosting the security of a new password

Think of a word or short phrase that you want to use, but instead of typing it as you normally would, move up the keyboard one row for each letter, so “Q” would become “!” and “F” would become “R”. This means that you could turn an insecure password such as “CenturyIT” into a much more complex, “D3h574685” Not only is this considerably more secure, but also very easy to remember.

As a last resort, there are numerous websites which offer secure random password generation. These websites will create a code at random for you to use as a secure and safe password. The downside to using a site like this is that it is more than likely you will have to write it down to remember it, creating the possibility of the password then being insecure as if it is written simply on a bit of paper left by the computer, anyone who sees it can use it.

Finally, if you use public computers such as the ones found in libraries, then it is essential that you change your password often! If the computer remembers your password, then the next person to use that computer could instantly have access to your account! Changing your password regularly is essential in this case. If you primarily use your own computer on your own network, then it is not essential to change all of your passwords so often.  Especially for websites such as forums where very little important information is held.

If you want to see how secure the passwords that you are using are, http://www.passwordmeter.com/ is a very quick and easy site to use.

 

Century IT Services – Getting IT Right

Providing Computer Support & Network Support to businesses in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, Wiltshire, Sussex & Berkshire.