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Top password tips

08/03/2019 - Online safety

Cybercriminals actively look to source your logins in order to access sensitive information, so being aware of how to make your accounts as secure as possible is a must.

Keeping your personal information safe online is extremely important. Cybercriminals actively look to source your logins in order to access sensitive information, so being aware of how to make your accounts as secure as possible is a must.

National Password Day is the first Thursday in May, so we asked the nation about their password habits. Our findings revealed that one in five (21%) of Brits use only three different passwords for all of their online logins and some (8%) go as far as using the same password for all of their accounts!

When it comes to keeping our online passwords private, the majority of the nation (62%) said they do keep them close to their chest, however, a fifth (21%) confessed to sharing at least one password with a family member. Surprisingly, only 15% confessed to sharing a password with a partner.

Our new research also revealed where the majority of the nation are getting their password inspiration, which exposed some worrying traits when it comes to creating unique logins; from maiden names (11%) to favourite sports teams (9%).

Six top tips to follow when creating online accounts

1. Make your password as long as possible

Over the years hackers have devised multiple methods for trying to crack your login details. The most rudimentary way is to personally target you and manually type in letters, numbers, and symbols to guess your password. The more advanced method is to use what is known as a “brute force attack”. This is where a computer program runs every possible combination of letters, numbers, and symbols as fast as possible to work out your password. The longer and more complex your password is, the longer this process will take.

2. Use a nonsense word or phrase

Long passwords can help improve your account security but long passwords that include random words and phrases are even better. If your letter combinations are not in the dictionary and not grammatically correct, they will be harder for hackers to figure out. You should also avoid using characters that are sequential on a keyboard such as numbers in order or making obvious substitutions such as the number “0” for the letter “o”.

3. Avoid personal information

Including personal information such as your birthday, city of birth or pet name can be tempting to help you remember your logins but this can leave you open to hackers. These words or phrases only make your password easier to guess as they can be sourced from a quick search of people’s social media profiles. Shockingly 23% of Brits admitted to including their pet’s name in their passwords, followed by a family members birthday (15%) and their own birthday (13%).

4. Do not reuse passwords

When hackers complete large-scale hacks, the lists of compromised email addresses and passwords are often leaked online. If your account is compromised and you use this email address and password combination across multiple sites, your information can be easily used to get into any of these other accounts. Use unique passwords for everything.

5. Mix up your characters

When generating logins for certain online accounts, websites may prompt you to include a mixture of capital and lowercase characters. This is the best practice when it comes to creating passwords and we advise including at least one capital letter and one lowercase letter in your password. The capital and lowercase letters should not be grouped together. Mixing them up makes the password more difficult to predict. Another way of improving your password strength is to include spaces within your password. Some password systems do not allow spaces however it can be useful to insert one in the middle of a password with systems that do, or alternatively an underscore “_” can work just as effectively.

6. Change your passwords regularly

Once you’ve memorised your login details it can be hard to let go and switch things up but the more sensitive your information is, the more often you should change your password. 30% of Brits admitted they only change their passwords when prompted. It’s important to change your password every couple of months and once it is changed, do not use that password again for a long time.

What the experts say

We also spoke to Aaron Nolan, Cybersecurity specialist from Spector who said: “Password Security is a fundamental matter, and that should not be taken lightly. Over 80% of hacking-related incidents use either weak or stolen passwords, so this is often one of the first things a Cyber Criminal will try to use against you.

“Even a strong password can quickly be compromised if you use the same one for every website and account you create. Cybercriminals are continually harvesting passwords from data breaches, and if you only use one password, they will eventually guess it. When they do, they will have access to most of your accounts, so the potential for damage is enormous.

Changing your password slightly is not the best idea in terms of cybersecurity. If a criminal is targeting you, or if they already know your password, they’ll easily be able to guess the others, so make sure to have a substantial difference between each one you use. The easiest way to go about it is to use a tool like a password manager, which will facilitate the task of remembering all of them for you.”

As well as keeping your online accounts secure, at Insurance2Go we can help you protect your devices too. Take a look at the insurance policies we have available, and give yourself extra peace of mind today.

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