November 9, 2015

There was once a time when using your address or mother’s birthday as your password was perfectly acceptable. For years, many people believed that the most important element of password creation was selecting one that was so memorable it didn’t need to be written down. However, these days are long gone.

Surprisingly though, many people are still failing to make their passwords secure. In fact, according to an in-depth password study conducted by Troy Hunt, 14% of people use a person’s name as their password, 8% use a place name and a shocking 25% use a word that can be found in the dictionary such as ‘monkey’ or ‘password’. Unsurprisingly, poor passwords are the most common cause of data breaches.

With cyber criminals using automated password cracking tools to identify passwords in a matter of seconds, it’s never been so important for both individuals and businesses to have strong, unique passwords for each online account. However, with so many passwords to remember, things can understandably get confusing. Here are a few suggestions for ways to invent strong passwords that are easy to remember.

Your account is likely to be more secure if you use difficult passwords and log them somewhere safe rather than using simple passwords that are easy to remember and just as easy to crack.

Strong Secure Passwords

1. Use a memorable song or phrase

Take the chorus of your favourite song and use the first letter of each word as your password. Be sure to use a mix of capital and lowercase letters and throw a number and special character in there for good measure. So if, for example, You Can’t Always Get What You Want is your favourite song of all time, your password could be YcagwyW5!.

Remember though that the longer the password the better, and many online security experts recommend using passwords of 12 characters or longer. So to make your account that little bit more secure, throw the band or singer’s name in at the end of your password.

Take the chorus of your favourite song and use the first letter of each word as your password. Be sure to use a mix of capital and lowercase letters and throw a number and special character in there for good measure. So if, for example, You Can’t Always Get What You Want is your favourite song of all time, your password could be YcagwyW5!.

2. Use your favourite TV character

If you’re obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, why not use his name as your password? Make sure you include plenty of numbers mixed in with the letters. For example, your password could look like this: Sh3rl0ckH01mes. However, we’d recommend making it even tougher to crack by adding another word in the middle. So your password could be Sh3rl0ckEleMentaryH01mes.

Since we’re widely encouraged to use different passwords across multiple accounts, you could use different characters for each one. Fans of the TV show Friends could use M0nicAFr13ndsGell4r! for one account and Ch4ndlerFr13ndsB1ng! for another.

You’d be surprised how easy it can be to remember combinations like this. While you may have to sneakily write the password down at first, within a week or two you should have it fully memorised and will be typing it quickly every time you log in.

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3. Avoid using the same password more than once

If you really must use the same password across all accounts it’s vital that you tweak it at least a little bit. Otherwise, if someone successfully hacks into one of your accounts, it won’t take them long to get into your others. At the very least, we recommend taking a letter or two from the website in which your account is held and placing that at the end of your password. So if you were to use YcagwyW5! across all accounts, you’d then add the letters ‘ck’ at the end for your Facebook password and ‘er’ at the end for your Twitter password. You could also include the main colour from the website’s branding. Facebook would be blue. Google+ would be red.

4. Use strong security questions

If you forget your password, many websites request that you answer some key questions in order to regain access to your account. Whether you’re asked for the name of your first pet or your favourite football team, these answers are extremely easy for other people to obtain. If you’ve gone to all the trouble of creating strong passwords, don’t let your account down by using easy-to-crack security answers. So if, for example, you’re asked for the name of your first school, be sure to make the password a little bit more complicated by including a few numbers or special characters. You could even throw in your teacher’s name if you’re confident you’ll remember this information.

If you’ve gone to all the trouble of creating strong passwords, don’t let your account down by using easy-to-crack security answers.

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5. If you’re going to log your passwords, do so safely

Once upon a time, writing passwords down was considered the ultimate taboo. However, your account is likely to be more secure if you use difficult passwords and log them somewhere safe rather than using simple passwords that are easy to remember and just as easy to crack. Whether you’re an individual or a business, here’s our tips to keeping this important data as safe as possible:

Individuals

If a hacker wants to access your personal accounts, they’re unlikely to break into your home and rummage around through notebooks and scraps of paper looking for your passwords. Instead, the hacking process is likely to be conducted online.

As a result, many people consider passwords written down on paper to be relatively safe. Nevertheless, we suggest you store this information safely and follow these tips:

  • If possible, avoid writing them down in full. Instead, give yourself prompts without giving the whole combination away
  • Never include the usernames with this information
  • Refrain from including the website where this information can be used

 Remember: If you were to lose a password notebook or it was to become severely damaged, retrieving and changing these details could be challenging and stressful. As a result, we recommend following the strong password advice earlier in this post so that you can remember complicated passwords yourself.

If a hacker wants to access your personal accounts, they’re unlikely to break into your home and rummage around through notebooks and scraps of paper looking for your passwords. Instead, the hacking process is likely to be conducted online.

Businesses

In a business environment, things can be a little more complicated. With numerous employees often needing access to tens and perhaps even hundreds of important passwords, the only solution is to log them somewhere safe that can be accessed easily by everyone.

A notebook in the corner of the office is likely to be unpractical, particularly if some employees work remotely. As a result, many businesses choose to keep their important login details in a document stored in the cloud or via an online password manager. Of course, even these locations can be subject to hacks so it’s important to thoroughly research your options before choosing a location.

If you’d like to know more about keeping your important data safe, secure and easily accessible, get in touch with the Synextra team. Whether you’d like to move your most crucial information to the cloud or invest in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), we can help. We can also provide you with anti-spam technology which can protect you from 91% of hacking attempts. To find out more, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0161 883 1383.