Password Security

Passwords have become necessary in our everyday lives from our mobile phones, computers, bank applications and even everyday convenience applications such as delivery apps.

The security of your bank account, social media accounts and email inbox depends on how well you safeguard your many passwords. The key to your online security is to have strong passwords, but the challenge is how do I create distinct password that one can remember or should one just make a bad choice and use a similar password for all their accounts.

If your data is compromised, weak passwords can have serious consequences, like identity theft. According to a research carried out in 2019 ,5183 data breaches happened that led to exposure of a lot of personal information such as login credentials, home address etc.… that could be used for identity theft.

How do you keep your password safe?

  • Avoid common words and character combinations in your password

The aim is to create a password that anyone would not be able to easily guess. It might be tempting to use your pets name, birth date or rather anything else that is associated with you that anyone who knows you even from social media sites can guess. This however is a bad password practice, and it should be avoided. In addition, stay away from common password phrases such as Password1,1234, qwerty etc. Instead, use special characters.

  • The longer your password the better:

Traditional eight-character passwords are now easily compromised. A password should be 12 characters at a minimum, ideally 16 or more. The longer the password, the longer it will take to crack. When a password cracker has more characters to fill to guess the correct password, it’s exponentially less likely to get it right.

  • To keep track of your passwords, use a password manager

Since strong passwords are unique and distinct for each account, they can be difficult to remember for each account that you log into. A trusted password manager can be used to create and store the unique and distinct passwords for your multiple accounts and can also assist you to keep track of your login information.

  • Avoid reusing your passwords across different sites

Reusing a similar password across the different accounts is a bad password practice. This is because if someone uncovers a password for just one account, they have the key to all of your other accounts which use the same credentials for login.

  • No need to periodically reset your password

Over the past years changing one’s password periodically was an acceptable practice because it would not be as easy for someone to guess your password. This however has changed over the years Microsoft now recommends that one changes their password when they suspect that it has been exposed. This is because the practice of changing the password every few months can lead to the bad habit of creating easy to remember passwords or even writing passwords down on sticky notes.

  • Use two-factor authentication (2FA)

If a bad actor manages to steal ones password, one can keep them from accessing their account using two factor authentication (2FA), which requires additional information usually a one-time code to access the services. This way, even if a hacker does uncover your passwords, without your trusted device (like your phone) and the verification code that confirms it’s really you, they won’t be able to access your account.

Passwords are the lock and key to your private information and paramount to your cyber safety, but your passwords are only as strong as you make them

Faith Mueni - Project Manager