Whether it’s your Facebook, Amazon, or Netflix account, the explosion in popularity of online apps and services means more and more of us have to remember an increasingly long list of passwords.
Unfortunately, some of us cope with this challenge by resorting to practices that leave our data, devices and money at risk - by using the same password across multiple accounts, or by creating simple passwords that could easily be guessed by hackers.
Bad password practice is more prevalent than you might think - the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre carried out analysis of passwords leaked in data breaches and found that more than 23 million users worldwide used 123456 as a password! You can read more about it here: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/news/most-hacked-passwords-revealed-as-uk-cyber-survey-exposes-gaps-in-online-security
Here are some top tips that will make your life easier and your online accounts more secure:
1: Creating memorable passwords
A good way to create strong, memorable passwords is by using 3 random words. But remember, don’t use words that can be guessed (like your pet’s name). You can include numbers and symbols if you need to. For example, “RedPantsTree4!”
2: Saving passwords in your browser
Saving your password in your browser means letting your web browser (such as Chrome, Safari or Edge) remember your password for you.
This can help:
make sure you do not lose or forget your passwords
protect you against some cyber crime, such as fake websites
It is safer than using weak passwords, or using the same password in more than one place.
3: Email account passwords
If a hacker gets into your email account, they could:
reset your other online account passwords
access personal information you have saved about yourself or your business
Your email password should be strong and different to all your other passwords. This will make it harder to crack or guess.
4. Use a password manager
Make your life easier by using a password manager, this will help store all your account passwords. With a password manager, you can protect every single one of your online accounts with a strong password. Try out Last Pass or 1Password.
5. Setup Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication (often shortened to 2FA) provides a way of 'double-checking' that you really are the person you are claiming to be when you're using online services, such as banking, email or social media. This could be a code that's sent to you by text message, or that's created by an app.
Passwords can be stolen by cybercriminals, potentially giving them access to your online accounts. However, accounts that have been set up to use 2FA will require an extra check, so even if a criminal knows your password, they won't be able to access your accounts.
Some online services will already have 2FA switched on. However, most don't, so you will need to switch it on yourself to give extra protection to your other online accounts, such as email, social media and cloud storage. If available, the option to switch on 2FA is usually found in the security settings of your account (where it may also be called 'two-step verification').
For more of the government’s latest advice on how to stay secure online, visit the Cyber Aware website: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).