Online security is more important than ever, with hello, 123456, iloveyou and mypasswordispassword among the most used passwords, users are putting their personal accounts at serious risk.
We’re constantly told that the best passwords are lengthy and full of different letters, numbers and symbols, as well as being different for every account you have. But passwords like these can be tough to remember. We explain some solutions that will help you create a tougher password without putting your memory through its paces.
Tip 1: Follow the basic password rules
Before you get started, there are some basic rules you may have heard before that you should consider following closely.
- Do not use obvious words like your name, your town or date of birth.
- Don't pick a short password. Many companies (such as BT) require passwords to be a minimum of 8 characters
- Ensure that you use a variety of letters, numbers, symbols, spaces and capital letters.
- Avoid using the same password everywhere. If someone gets hold of your password for one account, they can then gain access to all your accounts.
Tip 2: Choose random words
Leading law enforcement and financial institutions recommend the following steps to choose a secure password, based on advice from Get Safe Online.
1: Pick three random words eg: Jar Tea Phone
2: Choose a date that is easy to recall eg: 2009
3: Put the words together eg: jarteaphone
4: Split the date up and put it at the start and end eg: 20jarteaphone09
5: Capitalise a letter in each word eg: 20JarTeaPhone09
6: Add two special characters to the end eg: 20JarTeaPhone09!!
Tip 3: Using lots of numbers? Break them up
If you want your password to use a large chuck of numbers, break them up a bit like a telephone number.
The average person can only memorise about 7 units at a time, so breaking them up into smaller groups will make it easier for you to remember.
Tip 4: Get a dice and try Diceware
Another solution is Diceware, which is great for getting a truly random string of words that’ll have no association with you. Roll the dice five times, note down the numbers then match them up to the Diceware wordlist. The more words, the stronger your password will be, and if you can swap a few letters with numbers, even better.
Tip 5: Use a password manager
If you’re struggling to remember more than one password, a password manager could be the best option for you.
It’s a piece of software on your computer or smartphone app than keeps all your passwords safely encrypted and supplies them automatically to your web browser on demand.
You’ll still need to remember one password though – the password used to access the password manager.
BT Broadband customers can use True Key for free, which is one of your broadband extras.
Tip 6: Take advantage of 2-factor authentication
2-factor authentication is a good option for some websites that provide it. Essentially, it’s a second password that is text to your phone that you have to enter each time you login.
The password is different each time and only the person with your phone will be able to use it, so it’s very secure. But not every website offers this – Facebook and Twitter are examples of websites that do offer it.
Tip 7: Test your password’s strength
Before choosing a new password, why not test it out on How Secure Is My Password? It’ll tell you how soon your password could be cracked and make some suggestions to improve it.