Is your Password Secure

If you use a family name, a pet’s name, a birthdate or numbers between 1 and 6 as your online password, you are an easy target for a hacker.

The recent cyber-attacks on a spate of organisations, from EBay to Apple, has emphasised the importance of choosing strong passwords that can’t easily be discovered. An alarming 25 per cent of the top most common passwords are first names and the average password people use (and hackers know about!) is six characters and all lower case.

The security risk becomes even greater if you are one of the 73 per cent of Australians who use the same password for multiple sites. Once a hacker has discovered your password for one site, they will use automated software to fire it at a whole bunch of other sites.

Experts advise that not only should you have a different password for every site, but also that you make your password as long as possible and change it regularly.

To make a password easy to remember, think of a sentence and change some of the characters (known as a pass phrase). For example, ‘be good, be wise’ could be modified to: B3g00db3wi5e$. Avoid using famous phrases, movie titles, song lines etc.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts on password creation.

DO

  • Make your password eight or more characters.
  • Use a mix of all character types: ABC, abc, 123, @$!&
  • Make a diary reminder to change it regularly.
  • Use a password manager to help generate strong passwords and remember them for you.
  • Construct a password from a sentence or the line of a song.

DON’T

  • Use passwords like ‘abc1234’, ‘password’, ‘admin’, ‘’iloveyou’, ‘aaaaaa’ – these were the most popular passwords discovered after Adobe’s systems were hacked.
  • Use public information like kid’s names, anniversaries, partner’s names.
  • Let your web browser remember important passwords for you.
  • Use the same passwords for multiple accounts.
  • Log into private accounts on public computers.
  • Send your password via email or store it in plain text on your computer.
  • Use complete words – they are much easier to crack


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