Six ways to protect your passwords
If you’re head scratching over your growing list of passwords, then you’re not alone. The 4th of May marks World Password Day (yes, that’s a thing) – and even though passwords could soon be a thing of the past, we’ve six simple tips to keep your online life secure.
1. Make your password hard to guess
Lazy passwords are easy to hack, so come up with something you can remember gradually and won’t have to change every month! According to online security experts Norton, your password should be at least eight characters long, combine upper and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers that make it hard to guess.
2. Use unfamiliar names
It’s tempting to use a word like your name, your pet’s name, your spouse’s or kid’s name, or even a family member’s name to make things hassle-free for verifying security questions and passwords.
Here’s the thing: these names make your passwords more vulnerable to attack by hackers who can comb your social media accounts for clues. Don’t use any familiar password names, but think of random, more meaningless words.
3. Never reuse the same password
According to The Register, the habit of reusing passwords for different accounts was a common denominator among 31% of hack victims. Research by cybersecurity experts Kapersky Lab found that 39% of users reuse the same password combinations for all their accounts.
Your average hacker will laugh all the way to your bank armed with that information. Once they have one, they can guess the rest. Mix up your passwords, keep them complex, and feel free to hit the password reset button every few months.
4. Don’t log on in public places
You could be hit by malware. Beware of logging on using passwords in places with unsecured Wi-Fi connections. Wherever possible, avoid using the networks in internet cafes, airport lounges, coffee shops and the like.
5. Never open unknown attachments
According to LBC, hackers are coming up with more devious ways of stealing passwords and information. Look out for emails with attachments containing viruses, even ones designed to look like it was sent from one of your friends.
Never open unfamiliar email attachments, and check first with friends if they’ve sent it before you open anything.
6. Use anti-virus, firewall or anti-malware software on your PC
Passwords are easily stolen from unsecure and vulnerable PCs, especially if you’re using it daily to access sensitive information like your bank account.
Always buy the recommended software such as Norton or McAfee to protect your PC, and if there’s a firewall be sure to activate it!
And if you are hacked…
Before the hacker has the chance to do anything harmful (such as spam your contacts) change your password immediately. Tell your contacts to delete anything that looks suspicious, and not to open anything sent from your email until your account is secure.
What does the future hold?
Thinking up complex sequences of upper and lowercase letters, digits and special characters is frustrating. But that’s gradually evolving, as high-tech advances such as biometric technology, sometimes called ‘natural body identification’, use methods such as facial recognition, fingerprint scanning and even iris scanning. If you own an iPhone or more recent Samsung Galaxy, you’ll already be familiar with this.
Biometric technology is also proving popular in banking and finance, and young people are at the forefront of expecting this change to come.
Indeed, a Visa Europe study revealed that 50% of 16-24 year-olds believe traditional passwords, like the dinosaurs they are, will be extinct by the year 2020.