Protect yourself online with a strong password
Going digital has its pain points. We are literally drowning in passwords. From phones to emails, from online bank accounts to social media accounts, each one requires a login and a password to enable us to use them.
Not only is your password supposed to be unique for each account, it is also supposed to follow rules that will make it difficult to guess (hack-proof). And you better, because behind the password lies all your data.
A strong and secure password is your first defense against being hacked. Be judicious about creating and saving it like you would your home key.
What you should do to create, store and access your password
- Passwords should be at least 8 characters long, preferably longer.
- Create a password that contains capital letters, small letters, numbers and symbols.
- Use a unique password for each account.
- Use 2-step authentication.
- Use a password manager.
Longer a password, harder it is to crack.
Each addition of any of these makes it a little bit harder to crack your password.
Yes, it is a pain to create and remember all the passwords. Just remember that getting hacked is a much bigger pain!
Many websites now allow for a 2-step authentication. When you type in your password, the website sends your phone a text with a code that you need to enter on the website before you will be allowed access into your own account. This means, even if someone were to crack your password, they can’t get in because they wouldn’t know the code. This is one of the best ways to secure your account. When you setup your account, find out if the website allows for a 2-step authentication. If it does, enable it for your account.
Use a password manager that can help you create and manage all your passwords. You will then need to know only one master password. There are many password managers out there. Here are a few that are popular: Dashlane, LastPass, Sticky Password, Zoho Vault, LogMeOnce.
What not to do in your password
Let’s now explore what NOT TO DO. This is a much bigger list!
- Don’t use the URL name of the website.
- Don’t use obvious patterns.
- Avoid dictionary words.
- Do not leave your password in plain sight.
- Be smart about saving all your passwords in your computer.
- Do not use your personal information in your password.
- Do not give your password to anyone.
- Beware of phishing schemes.
For example, do not use “amazon” anywhere in your password for Amazon.com.
Avoid using consecutive alphabets or numbers (For eg., abcd, 1234, qwerty, etc.). You’d be surprised how many people use these in their passwords!
Passwords using only dictionary words are sitting ducks.
It is amazing how many people write their passwords on a post-it note and stick it on the side of their computer. Safeguard it like a key to your house.
First of all, do not save all your passwords on your computer. If you must, then do not use an obvious word for its filename, such as “passwords”. Be more cryptic.
Increasingly, all our information can be found online. A password that uses parents’ names, home address, birth dates, phone numbers, etc. are easier to hack.
This must seem very obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people give their passwords to their friends for ease or so their “streaks won’t end” on certain social media accounts. If you have to give your password to a friend for some reason, remember to change it after the event.
Do not click on any links in your email unless you are expecting one. It is easy to click on a link that seems to take you to the correct website where you can log in with your login and password. Unfortunately, these phishing pages can look very much like the actual page you expect. You could be duped to enter your login and password, at which point, your account gets compromised. The best thing to do is never to click on any link in an email unless you are imminently expecting an email with a link to click.
How to create a strong password
Creating a password that is easy to remember and unique for every site takes a bit of time. Here is one way that you can create your secure password that can also be easy to remember:
Begin with a sentence like “My aunt on my father’s side is 6’2””. You could also start with a line from your favorite song, movie dialog, speech or a line from a book. Other examples are “O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light” and “To be or not to be. That is the question”.
String together the first alphabet from each of the words and you would get:
If it lacks a number and/or a symbol, add it in a logical place. For example, convert an “o” into a “0” or replace one or all ‘m’s (or any other specific character) with a ‘3’. The passwords now look like:
Maomfsi6’2” (No change needed as this password already has numbers in it)
Osc6sbtd3l (Changed ‘y’ to ‘6’ and ‘e’ to ‘3’)
Tb0ntb.T1tq (Changed ‘o’ to ‘0’ and ‘i’ to ‘1’)
Since you shouldn’t use the same password on all websites, you can customize it to each website by adding their name to this gibberish. Say, you wanted to create an account on PureLynx website. Use the first 3 letters (or last 3 letters) of the website’s name. In this case, it is “pur”. Reverse these letters. You now get “rup”. Add this to the stem of your password and you get:
If your password doesn’t contain a symbol yet, add a symbol such as ‘#’ to the password. You now have:
Maomfsi6’2”rup (No change needed as it already has symbols)
Osc6sbtd3l*rup (Added a ‘*’ before “rup”)
Tb0ntb.T1tqrup$ (Even though this already has the period(.) in the middle, I added a ‘$’ at the end.)
These are excellent secure passwords. That doesn’t mean they can’t be hacked; it will just take a lot longer to hack an account with any of these passwords.
Check the strength of your password
For fun, check out password checker. DO NOT ENTER A PASSWORD THAT YOU USE. Enter a password similar to yours to see how long it would take to crack your password.