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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