Passwords - are yours really that safe? Part 2

Getting safe and staying safe

Phil Scattergood · 06 June 2019

Password hygiene is all about keeping you safe. Creating strong passwords, changing them regularly and storing them safely. And that's what we will look at today. It's a long read, but if you want to be safe, it's well worth the effort.

Creating a strong password.
Creating a strong password isn't that hard. Like anything, there are tools on the internet that can help you do that. Let's start by typing in "password generator and see what comes up. Today, I'm using the "Secure Password Generator" as an example. Now, keep in mind that there are web-based tools that create your password online or if you are very concerned, you can download a password generator to your desktop, and run it from there.


The "Secure Password Generator" has a huge amount of options available to create my password, and today I'm hitting all the checkboxes. I'm going with 16 characters, both upper and lower case, including symbols and numbers and here is what it came up with - T6a(Vu3*v"d[N}q&
All in a matter of seconds. And, without changing anything, if I ask it to generate another password, I get (R2{TgSvg4Y"a%DB Quick and easy, all for free. This makes it easy to have a different password for every site. You should never re-use your passwords on other sites.

But just how do you remember something like that?

Storing your strong password safely
So where do you store something like that? A notebook? How about a file on your computer somewhere? Try and memorise it? Maybe scraps of paper? I'm sure that people have tried all of these, and have found it way too hard.

But, there are easier ways. We use and recommend LastPass, as it works across all devices, is very secure and easy to use. It's easy to sign up, easy to generate an extremely strong password, and then it will store all of your passwords on your device, or online if you wish. The best part is that you don't have to remember those passwords....LastPass does it for you.

Last Pass, like many password storage lockers, offers auto-fill, categories and many other options that can make your life so much easier on a day to day basis.

But having found a safe place to store my passwords, does that mean I never have to change them again?

So how often should I change my password?
The easy answer is - often!  If you're using something like LastPass, it's easy to change the password, as you don't need to remember it. If you think of your password as a door key, ask yourself this question. "How long would I give my house keys to someone I didn't know?" and "If I could change my door lock, quickly and easily on a regular basis, would that make me safer?" Of course, questions like this are easy to answer. Hygiene is an interesting term that needs to apply to everything - we change our clothes on a regular basis, so why not our passwords?

I've seen passwords that are set to expire after 720 days - that means that anyone who has that password, including a hacker, has access until that password is changed. That could be a very long time.
How would you feel if that was your door key? Or perhaps your bank account.....change your password regularly. Keep it strong. Store it safely. Stay ahead of the hackers and keep them locked out! Remember they plan - so should you.

There are many ways that build on the steps we have described here, and they're all designed to build layers of safety. We'll talk about them in another post.

What's up next? In part 3, we look at how to find out if you have been involved in a data breach.

We've put a link to LastPass below. Just click through the advertisement, but if you have questions or concerns about your passwords, data safety or hackers remember - we're here to help. Why not contact us for advice & support?

 

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Phil Scattergood

Phil Scattergood

Hi, I’m Phil With almost 20 years in Tech Support, I’m passionate about helping people demystify technology. Technology in your terms is the way I like to think. I love what I do, who I do it with, and who I do it for. As an avid fan of motorcycling, kayaking, and traveling, I'm often on the move. But that doesn't stop me from getting the job done. I love the idea of cloud-computing, working from anywhere, and teaching others to do the same. I believe in old-fashioned customer service, which means being available, talking to people, taking the time to understand the issues that people have, and then helping them get it right. If you have questions about the technology that you are using, feel free to send them through. I don’t always have the answers, but I certainly can help you find them!

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