A closed lock on a keyboardPasswords “hacks” are common place.  As a web host, we see email highjacking, and cracked admin logins to things like WordPress and Joomla almost on a daily basis.  Most are down to bad passwords!  No surprise really – in light of the recent news that the most common online password used in 2013 was “12345” (closely followed by the word “password”).  So we thought it would be a good idea to provide some advice to come up with the ultimate password, helping protect you from any internet nasties and would-be hackers out there!

1) Never base your password on a word..  Instead base it on a phrase.  So if you have a dog called Rover, then instead of using “rover” as the password, maybe change it to “mydogrover” – the result is a much more secure password, but still very easy for you to remember.

2) To further improve the security of your password, try swapping letters for numbers, and use a mixture of UPPER and lower case.  So “mydogrover” becomes “MYd0gr0v3r”.

3) To make it even better…  use the first letter of a short phrase (instead of the words themselves).  So if you can easily remember a phrase such as “I have a dog called Rover who chases cats and rabbits”, then a secure password could be “ih1DcRwcc&r”.  You’ve now got a password which to the rest of the world (and to any computer) is 100% random, but to you it makes perfect sense (and easy to type after a few times!)…

4) Be careful who you connect with on social media.  Many people use passwords based on family members, pets, or places they’ve been on holiday.  Most of this information, I can find on your Facebook profile if we’re “friends”.

5) If you’re ever asked to provide some security questions (often used to prove your identity), then don’t answer them truthfully.  So you might be asked to provide “a memorable place”, or “the name of your childhood pet” (2 common security questions).  Answer them, but with a completely random answer.  A hacker could easily guess your memorable place is “New York”, but they’ll never guess a random word which makes no sense to that question such as “Chicken”!  It’s bizarre – but it works!

Bonus Tip) Consider a password manager.  One of the simplest ways to ensure that you use unique and strong passwords for every websites is to use “password management” software which means you don’t need to remember lots of different random passwords.  Take a look at www.my1login.com which offers a free account for personal users.

To give you an idea about the difference a few changes can make, here’s how long it would take a hacker using a standard desktop PC to crack your password* using the examples above:

rover – instantly!
mydogrover – 9 hours
MYd0gr0v3r – 6 years
ih1DcRwcc&r – 4 thousand years
*results from www.howsecureismypassword.net


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