While many people hate the idea and the rigours of changing their password, it is a very necessary evil. With the proliferation of phishing sites, viruses, keyloggers and malware, you are only safe when you change your passwords regularly enough.
One other common habit is the use of a single password across board. This is dangerous in the superlative. It is akin to having a single key to your safe deposit box, home, mailbox and car. While it may be quite convenient, it is quite risky since anyone with that one-for-all password can immediately get access to all the accounts. Your account security is very important and with these tips, it should not be rocket science:
Have a Key
In the age of the internet, it is only normal that you have several accounts that need passwords. It is in having several accounts that we are usually tempted to have one password for all the accounts. The easiest way out of this is to have a ‘key’ with four or five unchanging characters and two or three characters that will change in respect to the account.
Here are some steps to be taken:
Formulate a key using your favorite word or name, in this case I will use “brown” which I will formulate as 6r0wN. You can add the year or your age which will add two more characters to the key. The key will therefore change with the change of your age. You can add or minus a constant number to your age so that it is even harder to figure out. This gives you a main key to which you can attach the different codes for the different accounts.
So in case you have in internet banking account, all you have to do is to take the main key and add some letters from the account name, for example ‘6rowN301bk’. The main key is 6rown, your age is 30 the account is internet banking with the initials ‘1bk’ with the numeral ‘1’ used instead of
‘I’. The password changes to ‘6r0wN30hi’ for health insurance and so forth.
You can always change the main key to a more complex name like ‘Equip’ that will help you use more letter-numeral combinations e.g. “39u1p”.
Stay Clear of the Obvious
Obvious passwords are quite easy to remember. It is even easier for people and computer software to guess these obvious passwords. Some software can crack common word software like “placebo” in under 3 minutes. Most geeks can figure out anniversaries, birthdates and such other obvious occasion oriented encryptions in a matter of minutes. It is better to go for numbers and names that mean something to you but cannot be found on your bio data or anywhere on the information about you online.
Change It Often
Like a toothbrush, you password is yours alone and it should be changed as often as possible. Internet experts will tell you that depending on your usage of the internet, you should make changes to your password every three to six months. It is quite an annoying exercise but you are better off secure than anything else. The catch is that anyone can get access to a given account using a given password as long as that password is the password. The other thing is that any brute-force software will have to run for at least 8 months before it can crack a fairly complex password.
Use Password Management Apps
You don’t have to look around your desk, wallet or purse for that ever elusive piece of paper where you wrote your password; you can get password management application software instantly. It goes without saying that strong passwords can be quite tasking to remember especially when you are dealing with different accounts. You can use programs like 1Password, LastPass or KeyPass to get the job done. Not only will you be able to store your passwords securely but these applications also help you to generate strong and unique passwords. These applications can also be transferred to your smart devices and secondary storage locations for portability and ease of access.
Alternatively, you can create your own safe haven for passwords using Microsoft Word or PDF document sheets. You can keep a list of your passwords securely on a password secured Word or PDF file which you can copy to your thumb drive or smart device for convenience. This may be no match for the password application software but it is easy enough. Just don’t name the file “Password list”.
Find the Most Mundane Name You Can Think of
In 2015 the British National Cyber Security Center issued a guideline on the issue of password management apps. It the guideline, the BNCSC encouraged the use of password management apps to store passwords other than changing very frequently.
The idea of changing passwords every other week was floated by Bill Blur who advised his readers and clients to change passwords every other week. This was found to be ineffective in more ways than one. For one, in organizations that required workers to change passwords as frequently as three to seven days, it was found that users chose an easier password with every change.
The recommendation appealed to organisations to abandon the idea of compelling users to change passwords all too frequently. The recommendation did not however ask that the idea to change passwords be abandoned all together.
Pitfalls to avoid when changing passwords:
– Do not use generic word or sequential numbers like ‘qwerty’, ‘password’ ‘12345’. These are easily figured out so stay clear if you don’t want to be a laughing stock of cybercrime.
– Don’t use a password that is anything like your user name. Make sure they are very different
– Avoid using the “remember password” option on the browser especially when using a computer that is not your own. It is a risky habit even if the machine is your own. If phone or tablet gets stolen the thief will have a free pass into all they want.
Security is largely your responsibility as the user. You may want to do more towards ensuring your own security than you are doing presently because hackers and other scammers aren’t getting any dumber.