One of the problems with passwords is that users forget them. In an effort to not forget them, they use simple things like their dog’s name, their son’s first name and birthdate, the name of the current month- anything that will give them a clue to remember what their password is. For the curious hacker who has somehow gained access to your computer system this is the equivalent of locking your door and leaving the key under the doormat. Without even resorting to any specialised tools a hacker can discover your basic personal information- name, children’s names, birthdates, pets names, etc. and try all of those out as potential passwords.
To create a secure password that is easy for you to remember, follow these simple steps:
- Do not use personal information. You should never use personal information as a part of your password. It is very easy for someone to guess things like your last name, pet’s name, child’s birth date and other similar details.
- Do not use real words. There are tools available to help attackers guess your password. With today’s computing power, it doesn’t take long to try every word in the dictionary and find your password, so it is best if you do not use real words for your password.
- Mix different character types. You can make a password much more secure by mixing different types of characters. Use some uppercase letters along with lowercase letters, numbers and even special characters such as ‘&’ or ‘%’.
- Use a passphrase. Rather than trying to remember a password created using various character types which is also not a word from the dictionary, you can use a passphrase. Think up a sentence or a line from a song or poem that you like and create a password using the first letter from each word. For example, rather than just having a password like ‘yr$1Hes’, you could take a sentence such as “I like to use CenCom solutions to support me and my colleagues” and convert it to a password like ‘!l2UCC52sM&mC”. By substituting the number ‘2’ for the word ‘to’ and using an exclamation point in place of the ‘i’ for ‘I’, you can use a variety of character types and create a secure password that is hard to crack, but much easier for you to remember.
- Use different passwords. You should use different username and password for each login or application you are trying to protect. That way if one gets compromised the others are still safe.
- Use unique usernames and more secure passwords on web sites such as your bank or credit card companies.
- Change your passwords. You should change your password every 60 to 90 days. You should also not re-use a password for at least a year.