Online Security – a buzz word, and something most of us take for granted, let’s be honest – how many of us have one password for our Internet Banking, our social networks, and our email? We’re probably all guilty of it, but as Wired Editor Mat Honan discovered this weekend when he got seriously hacked - it’s something we really need to take seriously. This article will give you some steps to assess, correct and secure your security online.
‘In the space of one hour, my entire digital life was destroyed. First my Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next my Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. And worst of all, my AppleID account was broken into, and my hackers used it to remotely erase all of the data on my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook. In many ways, this was all my fault.’ Mat Honan
Stage 1 – Creating a Strong Password:
Let’s begin: the two most important things to consider when creating a password are length and complexity. Quite simply, the longest and most complex passwords don’t get hacked.
Step 1: Assess your current password – click here to check it’s strength.
Step 2: If your password isn’t suitably strong – change it immediately, we suggest you use a pass-phrase, i.e, think of a sentence or saying that means something to you, perhaps it’s a lyric from a favorite song or a memorable movie quote, no matter what it is, just ensure it’s something you’ll remember easily.
Step 3: Take the first character from each word and use this to make the base of your password, for example let’s use the iconic horror movie ‘The Shining’ and the quote ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ which equals the password: awanpmjadb.
Step 4: Make your password stronger: use characters, numbers, symbols, capitalisation and spacing to make the password super strong: for example: aw& npmJ4db
Step 5: Experts say that should use a different password for each website you use, tricky, we know – but you can make simple changes to your base password thus creating multiple similar versions of the same password. Another idea is to make one variation for each type of site or online service, for example have one for social media, one for banking, one for email and so on, by categorising them it means you may only need 3 or 4 versions so in the unlikely event that one gets compromised, not all will go down.
Here’s an example of how you can do this:
- awaNPmj4DB – certain letters capitalised
- aw&np!mj4db – exclamation point between the password
- aw &npmj4db – with a space between
Stage 2 – Keeping your password Secure
1) Never write down or tell anyone your password.
2) Don’t type your password when someone is looking over your shoulder.
3) Change your password immediately if compromised.
4) Don’t send anyone an email with your password in it.
5) If you write your password in a machine that does not belong to you do not click the ‘remember me’ box and clear cookies if necessary.
Stage 3 – Making sure your password is protected
How do Password Managers work?
Password managers essentially store your information in an encrypted file, which is only accessible through the use of a “master password.” By doing this, all of you various online services are secured, but you only have to remember one password. In turn, it is extremely important for you to make sure your master password is extremely high quality.
By following these simple steps, online security shouldn’t be an issue if you have any ideas, comments or suggestions on other ways to create or securely store passwords, comment below.