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  • Writer's pictureAngela Sanna

Keep your business data secure with strong passwords

Creating strong passwords may seem like a daunting task, especially when the recommendation is to have a unique password for each site you visit. Anyone would be overwhelmed if they had to create and memorize multiple passwords like Wt4e-79P-B13^qS.

As a result, you may be using one identical password even though you know it’s unsafe and that if it gets compromised all of your web information is exposed. Or you use several passwords, but they are all short simple words or include numbers that relate to your life they are still too easy to guess. Or, if you made hard to remember passwords (probably because your business or a website forced you to) then you likely have a list of the passwords right next to your computer - even though you know this also compromises your safety if others use your computer.

Passwords you can't remember are useless. But passwords that are too easy to remember can be easy to guess or to ascertain with a brute-force attack.

We’ve pulled together some top tips to help you create the perfect password and stay protected!

Avoid simple passwords

Don’t use obvious or typical password ideas. Here’s a short list of password types to avoid:

  • A sequential list of numbers or letters, like “abcde” or “12345.”

  • A password that contains all or part of your username.

  • Any personal info, such as your birthday, pets name or the town you grew up in.

  • A string of repeated characters, like “aaaaa” or “0000.”

  • The word “password.” Believe it or not, people still do this.

Leave personal info out of your password. Thanks to social media, hackers can easily collect basic info about anyone, and they’ll use everything they can find in their cracking attempts.

Make it brute force-proof

Brute force attacks run through one combination of characters after another until finally generating the one you selected as your password. Here’s how to counter this technique with better password ideas:

  • 15 to 20 characters or more. Length is your best defense. Each additional character in your password massively increases its potential combinations, which in turn greatly prolongs the amount of time needed to brute force your password.

  • Use multiple character types. There’s a reason more and more organisations are requiring passwords made with both uppercase and lowercase letters as well as symbols and numbers. When you include all character types, you maximize the amount of possibilities per character, which makes your password harder to crack.

  • Avoid common character substitutions.Hackers program their cracking software to account for typical character swaps, like “0” instead of “O.”

Use passphrases

You can stump dictionary attacks by taking your passwords further than single, easy-to-guess words. Chain multiple words together to create extra-long passphrases that are highly resistant to both dictionary attacks and standard brute force attempts.

When creating a passphrase, make sure the words in it have no obvious connection to each other. Password cracking software can guess related words, but random words will stump it.

Password security tips

Include these password security best practices into your daily routine to upgrade your login security:

  • Use a VPN while on unsecured Wi-Fi networks, such as free public Wi-Fi at an airport or in a cafe. Using a VPN will prevent any eavesdroppers from intercepting your login credentials.

  • Don’t communicate your password in plain text. Never email or text anyone your password.

  • Don't recycle your passwords. It's worth repeating that reusing passwords across different accounts is a terrible idea. If someone uncovers your reused password for one account, they have the key to every other account you use that password for.

  • Choose hard-to-guess security questions when creating new accounts. There’s a lot of information about you on the internet. When selecting security-verification questions, don’t pick options that have easily-searchable answers.

  • Change your passwords regularly. Even if a hacker manages to get their hands on your credentials, they won’t be able to use them if you’ve updated your password since then.

  • Longer passwords are better. 8 characters are a great place to start when creating a strong password, but longer logins are better. Using a passphrase made up of three or four random words for added security. A longer passphrase composed of unconnected words can be difficult to remember, however, which is why you should consider using a password manager

  • Don’t store passwords in your browser. Should someone get hold of your device, you’ll have left the door wide open for them. Any passwords saved in your browser are potential points of entry — and always use a secure browser.

  • Use a strong antivirus program. If the worst happens, and a hacker obtains your password, the best antivirus software will keep you protected against intrusions and malware.

  • Use a password manager. If you’re creating unique passwords for every account, you can store them safely with a trustworthy password manager.

You are your best line of defence against cyber attacks and hacks. By following the advice listed above, you’ll make yourself a much tougher target for any would-be cybercriminal. Always protect yourself and your information behind strong, unique, and hard-to-crack passwords.

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