Tips to Keep Your Digital Life Safe and Secured (Part 2)

Posted on Oct 7, 2013


Is your password as secure as you think?

By now, we’ve all heard of tips and tricks to keep our online accounts secure. Passwords such as 12345 and QWERTY are obvious password choices to avoid. However, with the influx of hacker tools and algorithms, your current choice of password may not be as clever and impenetrable as you think.

The basics:

You’ve probably heard that your password should contain a combination of…

-letters (abcdABCD…)

-numbers (123456…)

-special characters (*^%@!$…)

Keeping these basics in mind can be a great way to start, but it may take a bit of extra creativity to keep your accounts safe.

Yes, you can use a pass phrase, but make it random.

While it can be tempting to use popular movies, songs, or TV shows for inspiration, pass phrases like: Apieceofcake, myheartwillgoon, are not going to fly.

Substituting letters for numbers (example: m1h3@rtw1llg00n instead of myheartwillgoon) will amp up the security level a little bit, but these tricks have been around for so long that hackers have often figured out algorithms to decipher popular pass phrases, despite these substitutions.

The best solution? Create an entirely random phrase that only you understand. There are a few ways to do this.

1) Think of a sentence that follows the pattern: Who, what, when where or how.

Example: I am eating 10 pounds of frosting at the central zoo.

Then, take the first letter from each word and put them together. The example would form: Iae1pofatcz.

Try mixing up the punctuation and throwing in some special characters to avoid grammar patterns.

2) Choose random, unrelated words.

Example: Car tissue cat.

Then, try putting the words together and substituting some numbers for letters, and shazam! Super secure.

The example could be: c@r7i55u3c@7!

3) Think of your own patterns for creating phrases.

The rule of thumb is this: if you’re using a password-forming template that you found online, chances are, it’s popular to many users. And chances are, hackers will be on to it!

Use a random password generator and manager.

Despite these tips, for those accounts that require top security, consider using a password generator and manager. Try out LastPass, KeePass or 1Password. These programs can help you create a completely random password and help you manage them in a secure way, so you won’t have to remember all your passwords.

If you want to go the old-school route, create your own long password by using a random combination of upper and lower case letters, special characters, numbers, and punctuation. Keep them stored on a piece of paper in a safe place that you’ll remember. Try to use shorthand or code words with your notes though: if your cheat sheet falls into the wrong hands, you’ll sorely regret spelling out “Blue Money Bank Account Password: sjr94A!54djb.”

Conclusion

While we don’t mean to be that paranoid neighbour on the block corner who spouts off about the dangers of the world, we believe that staying informed about hacker techniques and password pitfalls can be worth the trouble to keep your accounts secure. Using a little creativity and discretion should launch you well on your way to dodging those pesky hackers!

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