How secure is your password?
Published 2 May 2019
We show you how to create a strong and memorable password that improves your online security and keeps the scammers at bay.
Happy World Password day! Not heard of it before? It’s a great reminder of how important it is to make sure you’re safe and secure online.
A poll by online password manager LastPass showed that over half of us use the same password for everything. 59% of those asked knew that having the same password over a few accounts wasn’t safe, but did it anyway.
Our fraud team have a great saying – ‘Treat passwords like your underwear. Don’t share them and change them regularly’.
How do I create a strong password that I won’t forget?
When it comes to a strong password, use all the tools at your disposal to make sure it’s cast iron. Here are the dos and don’ts of creating a secure password:
• Make your password long – a strong password is usually around 12-14 characters, but the longer the password the better. It should never be less than 8 characters.
• Use as many different characters as you can – use a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters like exclamation marks.
• Choose a phrase or a set of words personal to you – for example ‘hassle-free banking’ becomes ‘Ha$$l3Fr33Bank!ng’. You could also use some lyrics from your favourite song. We love Bohemian Rhapsody, so the first line, ‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’ goes to ‘ItTrLiTjF’, and then add some numbers and special characters for good measure!
• Use any common passwords – ‘qwerty’ and ‘123456’ are definitely not going to cut it when it comes to protecting you online!
• Use your personal info – if you use the name of your pet or your partner in your password, it’s likely a scammer can find this out and it’ll be their first guess.
• Use a single word or a pair of words you can find in the dictionary – this is because scammers can use technology to find out what your password is. Some software can test every single word in the dictionary as a password in a matter of seconds.
Why is it a security risk to use the same password for all my online accounts?
It can seem like a good idea to have the same password for everything, but you’re making it far too easy for a scammer.
If they can work out what one of your passwords is, and it’s the same as the rest of your accounts, they’ll be able to access everything from your Facebook to your online banking.
They can then find the info they need to be able to steal your identity and commit fraud in your name.
How can I find out if my account’s been hacked?
You might not even know if someone’s managed to get into your account, but there are ways to check.
Use HaveIBeenPwned.com to see if any of your account information has been leaked or stolen as part of a data breach.
If any of your accounts show up, change ALL of your passwords straight away – not just the ones on the breached accounts.
Make sure you warn your friends and family in case they receive any weird emails or texts from ‘you’ telling them to click a link. If they do, they might get hacked as well!
Could your bank account be at risk? Let their fraud team know so that they can ramp up security on your account to make sure that your money isn’t going anywhere.
Is there anything else I can do to make it harder for hackers?
Why not try these out:
• Use touch ID and facial recognition – nowadays for some apps you don’t even need to come up with a password to login! They’re personal to you so a scammer can’t get through them.
• Take time out to change your passwords – get into the habit of changing your passwords regularly to make it more difficult for fraudsters.
• Don’t write passwords down – even if you’re forgetful you should never write them down. If you’re struggling to remember them, try using memory tricks or password management software.
• Always install updates – whether it’s antivirus software or the latest iOS, update everything so there won’t be any holes in your security.
• Be careful with any links – beware of phishing emails and unsecured websites which could let the fraudsters in. They might contain harmful malware that hacks into your devices.
• Don’t use public Wi-Fi – it’s convenient, but risky. Everyone and anyone can access it, including scammers!