How to keep your passwords safe

Nowadays we are asked to put our password into almost every website and application we visit. As such, many of us will use the same password for at least a few of our accounts – after all, who wants to have the trouble of resetting it when you forget which version goes with which website?

Yet, it’s incredibly important to have differences in your passwords. This is because if a hacker gets into one of your accounts, they suddenly have access to them all. While you may think your password is strong enough to avoid this happening to you, sometimes it might not even be your fault at all if your password gets leaked, for example with a data breach

Creating a strong password

Strong passwords that a hacker will find more difficult to break usually have the following characteristics:

  • A special character e.g. ‘#’, ‘?’ ‘!’ (the more of these you have the better)
  • A number, or a series of numbers
  • A capital letter

These are usually the minimum requirements for a strong password and some websites even mandate your password has these. However, there are also a few other key tips you can use to make your password even harder to guess.

  1. Pick three random words and string them together. For instance, icecreamfairydoor.
  2. Avoid using names of pets, children, your birth town, or favourite football team. If a hacker really wants to break into your profile, the first thing they will do is check your social media to see if they can find the names of your loved ones or any of your other relevant personal details. 
  3. Put the numbers and special characters into the password and not at the end. For instance, ic3cr34mFa!ryd00R
  4. NEVER use ‘password’ or ‘password123’ or ‘guest’ as your password as this will usually be the first thing a hacker tries.

If you’d like, you can also see how long it would take for a computer to crack your password at this link: https://random-ize.com/how-long-to-hack-pass/ 

Using a password manager

Now you’ve learnt all the tips to make a strong password, the next thing to do is manage all the variations you need for each site. This is where a password manager comes in.

Password managers do exactly what the name implies. They keep track of which password you need for each of your accounts. There are a variety of options you can find on the Google Play or App store, which are free to download and use. A few good examples include ‘Keeper’, ‘mSecure’ and ‘SecureSafe’. All these password managers also have desktop versions that you can use on your computer.

The reason they work so well on your phone is that you can set up biometrics to access the app itself. Biometrics are characters unique to you like your fingerprint or the structure of your face. This means, even if you had your phone stolen, someone couldn’t get into the app containing all your passwords.

Once you’ve downloaded a password manager you’ll need to start adding your login details for each of your accounts. To help you out, the password manager can also make up a strong password on your behalf, and, if you’d prefer to add your own password manually, it can tell you the strength of it.

Then, once you need your login details to access one of your accounts simply open the app, click on the account and either copy the password directly, or click reveal to see what it is. This way, you can make each of your passwords unique without worrying you’ll forget them. 

Will you be downloading a password manager? Let us know in the comments below, and if you have any other technology queries tweet @techtroublesho1.

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