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How to keep your online passwords safe

01 July 2015 ( 03 March 2017 )

It's important to create strong passwords for your online accounts. But how do you safely create, remember and store passwords? Here are a few simple tips.

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The best way to store passwords online is through a secure password manager

Once upon a time, creating an online password was easy. All you had to do was think of a word that meant something to you – perhaps your pet’s name or your favourite sporting team.

Then word got out that hackers were taking advantage of simple passwords to gain access to private and personal information.

We were told we needed longer passwords with a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols, and that we should never use the same password twice.

How to stay safe online

How to choose passwords you’ll remember

If you have a good memory, you might be able to remember one or two more complex passwords for accounts you use regularly, but most of us now have multiple accounts that require this security measure. 

How can you possibly remember online passwords if they look like S!3x@7yp? Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be quite so complicated. 

Experts agree that you should follow three rules when choosing passwords:

  • Each password should be different.

  • Passwords should not be related.

  • Passwords should be difficult for others to guess. 

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The key is making connections others won’t be likely to guess. 

Let’s say you’re trying to think of a password for your Facebook account. 

What image comes to mind when you think of the letter F? It could be a favourite thing or an old friend. Who was your best friend when you were a child? “Jeff!” And what year was he born? 

If it was 1961, “Jeff!1961!” would be a reasonably secure password you can probably remember and associate with your Facebook account. 

If you’re still not satisfied, you can throw in an extra number, symbol or letter. J is the 10th letter of the alphabet, so you might want to use “10eff!1961!” instead. 

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Storing passwords safely

You’ll probably remember a couple of your most frequently used online passwords, but if your list grows to an unmanageable level, don’t be tempted to jot them down on your phone or computer. 

If your computer or mobile device gets hacked, the hacker will have access to all of your online passwords – it’s a recipe for disaster. 

The best way to store passwords online is through a secure password manager. Three of the best known password management sites are:

RoboForm costs around £7.95 to buy after a 30-day trial, while KeePass and Password Safe are free and open source programs. 

On all password managers, you only have to remember one ‘master’ password to gain access to all your online passwords. 

Just remember to update it regularly to ensure you’re using the latest security features. (It will probably remind you!) 

Online security is an important issue, but don’t let fear stop you from making the most of everything the internet has to offer. 

There are no guarantees, of course, but by being clever about your online passwords and using a secure password manager, it’s an issue you shouldn’t have to worry about.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.