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Jamie Durham
IT Correspondent
12:27 PM 14th July 2021
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How To Supercharge Your Password Security – Part One

Whether online shopping or paying household bills, these days many people have online accounts to make their day-to-day transactions simpler and quicker.

However, with each and every profile comes the requirement to devise a new, strong password – helping to stop cyber criminals from accessing your personal details – which can feel overwhelming and unmanageable when you have so many to deal with.

So, how do you create a strong password? And how can you ensure you’re being as safe as possible in your technique to remember them.

In this two-part article series, Jamie Durham, founder of IT support firm Systemwork, shares his top tips on how to supercharge your password security…

1. Think, ‘how safe is my current password?’

The truth is that many people across the globe are using unsafe passwords without realising it.

From birthdays and pet names to ABCs and 123s, so many internet users keep their online details memorable – and that’s an open door to hackers looking to intercept sensitive information.

In fact, the safety of our passwords against hackers is something which worries 90% of internet users.

The trick to creating a secure profile is making it as difficult as possible for cyber criminals’ systems to crack.
And there are a few ways you can do this…

2. Remove any personalisation

It’s tempting to use your partner or family’s name, followed by your date of birth, and where you went on holiday five years ago, but this is likely information which someone could find out or you’ve already told people. Really, anything you share on social media or – is in the public domain – should be avoided.

3. Increase the number of characters

As a rule, the longer the password, the more difficult it will be for any systems to decipher and intercept. Usually the minimum password length is eight characters, however, if you’re looking to boost its security, between 12 and 15 is advised.

4. Randomise the content

Using a mixture of random words, be sure to pepper in some capital and lower-case letters, and symbols. But whatever you do, avoid common substitutions or keyboard paths.

For instance, ‘IL0v3MyD0G!’ – although it contains over eight characters and all of the requirements, it’s rather easy for a hacking programme to decode. And keyboard paths may be ‘qwerty’ or ‘asdfg’ – these are some of the first ports of call for online criminals, so don’t fall into this trap.

Unfortunately, it’s been revealed that ‘12345’ is still used by 23 million account holders, and that 51% of people use the same details for both work and personal profiles.

5. Use the sentence method

A good way to create memorable passwords is to assign something which has meaning – without being obvious.

Taking the ‘IL0v3MyD0G!’ example above. To make this more secure, this could be changed to ‘iLMyD!hNiRov20’ – I love my dog, his name is Rover, and 20 could be the year or date you got him. By turning this into a sentence where only you know what it means, it looks like gobbledegook to anyone else.

At first glance, simply adhering to the recommended minimum eight characters and assortment of capital and lower-case letters, with symbols, seems enough to keep you safe. However, if hackers use the ‘brute force’ or ‘dictionary attack’ techniques – and the words you have chosen are obvious and logical – then the chances of your details being compromised greatly increase.

If you’re reading this and wondering how you can possibly remember your randomly generated passwords though, stay tuned for next month’s instalment of ‘How to supercharge your password security – Part Two’, where Jamie offers more tips and tricks on how to create, and not forget, those safer logins.