Strong internet security is more important now than ever before. While the web provides a wealth of opportunities, its downside is its underbelly, made of people ready to seize online accounts for ill-gotten gains. For many people, the only defense they have against this is the humble password.
Yet even these can be frustrating. Everyone has had a moment of typing the same password repeatedly, knowing they have it right but being denied access to their accounts. So, how can you create memorable passwords and stay safe?
Make It a Secret
You have to stay secure in everything you do online, from your interactions such as comments you leave on social media to selecting the ‘stay signed in’ option on public/shared devices. Not only this but even from verbal discussions: once someone gets to know you, they can often guess passwords through notable likes and interests, as well as other trivia.
It’s perhaps no surprise that studies such as that conducted by ExpressVPN have revealed an international trend of people commonly selecting the same passwords, based on their region. In Italy and Croatia, for example, the most frequently used ones are the names of popular sports teams like ‘Juventus’. It would only take someone with limited knowledge of a person to guess this. In other countries such as Germany, there’s the generic and highly predictable ‘passwort’, which an Average Joe could crack without hacking software or elaborate means.
Pertinent information that could help someone to guess your password can also be divulged from online comments you make, particularly ones that ask people to provide answers to basic trivia questions like “What was the first car you owned?” or “Who is your favorite pop star?”. While these seem fun to answer on social media, they are best to avoid for security purposes. Many of them even take the form of seemingly harmless quizzes, which is what makes them all the more enticing. Essentially, you think you are answering innocuous questions to find out what type of movie character you are, meanwhile hackers are using these responses to decipher information that could potentially compromise sensitive information or private data.
One of the easiest ways to avoid hacking is to avoid using the same password for all accounts. While this can make passwords hard to keep track of, it means providing your information to one provider gives them access to others. You could end up giving your email password to the developer of a Facebook quiz. Even if you trust the platform you are using, a single data breach can mean an unknown person has access to everything.
Using a mix of characters, including letters, numbers, special characters, and cases, is a great way to make illegal access harder. Many websites will now have this as a requirement. Below are some tips on using them to your advantage.
- Never use sequential numbers
- Use a combination of at least eight characters
- Never include dates of birth
- Combine different, unrelated words or phrases
As an additional security check, don’t forget to set up any extra measures offered by the platform. Two-factor authentication, for example, is a must when if you want to keep an account safe.
Keep Passwords in a Physical Location
There are many apps and packages that you can store passwords on. Browsers and phones will even do it for you so you don’t have to keep retyping them. The worry with this is that if someone manages to get access to the system through malware, then it is easy for them to take the information.
If you want to prevent them from getting access electronically, then store your passwords physically. Keep a notebook with the name of all your websites, email accounts, and passwords. This way, all you have to do is take it from your physical location when you forget it.