These days, although most of us wouldn’t like to admit, we live most of our lives online. Friends come in real-life and Facebook varieties while most of our shopping can be achieved within a couple of clicks. With so much precious information stored online the username-password combination has become something like the only level of protection you have against cybercrime. Here is a case in point, so a couple of months ago there was a huge story where the extramarital dating website – Ashley Madison – was hacked leaking information for millions of its users and although adultery shouldn’t be the catalyst for you to beef up your online security, here’s a list of useful guidelines for stronger passwords according to Fortinet (these guys offer fast and secure cyber security solutions so they should know what they are talking about).
Never an easy password
Let’s get the obvious out of the way; with passwords like 123456, qwerty or something to that effect, you are just begging to let people into your sites. Also that being said, using your name or your username as your password is a no go as well.
Complexity and Length
After reading the previous tip, needless to say the more complex your password the harder it is to break. Length, combinations of upper and lower case letters and including numbers and symbols all add to the intricacy. Additionally, using non-dictionary words will increase the complexity tremendously.
Of course using different passwords for different platforms make sense; never put all your eggs in one basket as they say. But if you’re the kind to have multiple online accounts, it may be a little hard to remember them all. There are password manager applications out there to record the various passwords used for different platforms and if all else fails the traditional pen and paper approach seems to work well, just remember to store it in a secure location and remember where that location is.
Getting your Facebook or Flickr account hacked is one thing but when it comes to e-commerce platforms or even banking sites, the consequences may be much harsher. A two factor authentication module uses two elements to log onto an account. The first will be a password while the other is information to validate the user’s identity; usually the latter will be a small physical device such as a smart card, USB key or even a smartphone app.
But at the end of the day, even with the strongest password around, hackers can still find a way around it. Malware like Trojan Horses give hackers a backdoor into your personal computers while keyloggers (a program that tracks your keystrokes) can also give away your password to a would-be hacker. There are many ways to get your account compromised but it wouldn’t hurt to make it just that much harder with a strong password.