Your password is the first level of security to your account. It is also one of the most effective ways to secure your personal details in any online account from unauthorised access. It is unfortunate that most people do not know how to create a strong password for their many online accounts. Weak passwords give hackers a field day and create irreparable damage to account owners. Here is a detailed look at how to create strong passwords.
For fear of forgetting the passwords or just sheer laziness, most people create passwords from common terms and easy to guess items or events in their lives. Here are ten such common passwords.
- Name and Birth Year
- 0000 (and other single letters repeated four times)
The Keys to Creating an Effective Password
A perfect password is a combination of several factors as explained below.
The Longer a Password Is, The Harder It is to Crack
Using mathematics, the more the number of characters used to make a password, the more the number of character combination and the less the chance that anyone will get a correct combination to log into your account. Most hackers use software tools to breaks passwords but would not be able to break passwords with several characters. Security experts recommend a length of not less than eight characters.
Make the Password Complex.
Most people use similar patterns when creating passwords. This may be their date of birth, a sequential list, favourite sport, pet names, the name of the home location and so forth. Such are patterns that have made the common password examples shown above. These are too simple to predict and are most likely the first combinations that hackers try when trying to break passwords.
Therefore, it is recommended that you create complex passwords. Complex passwords are a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, special characters and numbers. A combination of a long password with a good mix of these characters makes it hard for anyone to guess the login credentials.
Create a Different Password for Each of your Online Accounts
This is the toughest rule when it comes to creating passwords. Most people have tens of accounts such as online financial, social media, email and subscriptions accounts, among others. To avoid forgetting the passwords, most people use the same login credentials across several accounts. When hackers compromise the security of one of the sites, they try the password on other accounts to see if they would work. Unfortunately, most of them do. You end up having more than one accounts compromised and your information stolen.
Create a different password for each of your accounts. To make the passwords easier to remember, you can have a core password in which you paraphrase by adding in suffixes and prefixes. For example, a password like Hambleemi56$ could be paraphrased for different sites as follows: Hambleemi56$AmazoN, 2019!Hambleemi56$ $Hambleemi56$mE. With such sequence, it is easier to remember the password but still hard for hackers to guess your combinations. You should also use a VPN to make it harder for hackers to follow you on sites you visit online.
Make Use of Two Factor Authentications
Multi-factor authentications provide an extra layer of security on your accounts in that they require additional information above your username and password. The additional information includes the following:
- A Question Challenge
A challenge is a question that you know the answer where the answer is unique to you. It could be anything from the hospital where you were born to the name of your pet. Avoid the general questions whose answers you may have posted on social media such as your school, city and pets name.
- OTP and SMS Codes
You may have a One Time Passcode (OTP) sent to your email or mobile device after entering your username and password. This means that for one to access the account, he or she must have possession of your mobile phone or access to your email. In other cases such as in online banking, you may be issued with a token that generates a secret code that is entered after your username and password.
Additional Tips to Enhance Your Online Safety
- Change Your Password Often
Do not remain with the same passwords for years. There is a high chance that you may give clues to the password in the course of your daily business. Most security experts recommend changing passwords in about 60 days. The period is not short for changing a password but not too long either.
- Do not Store Your Passwords on Your Computer
Do not write a list of your passwords and store it in your computers. In case of a hacking or intrusion even, hackers are likely to scan your computer for information that includes your passwords. In the same breath, avoid saving the passwords on your browser. There is even a higher chance that your browser may be compromised before your computer becomes vulnerable. In the same breath, consider using a VPN to avoid the theft of your personal data on the browser.
- Consider Using a Password Manager
If you have a problem remembering your password, a password manager may be a good solution. These apps encrypt and store passwords for all your online accounts only requiring you to have a single password. They even flag up any weak passwords and recommend better ones. You can also use them to change your passwords regularly and quickly. Well, there is still a risk in using the passwords as anyone with a master password can easily gain access and steal all your passwords. However, the benefits outweigh the risks. You can also create a better master password if it the only one you have to remember.