Passwords

Computer Tips

I’ve forgotten the password” I hear often as I help solve IT issues! The problem is that everything seems to need a password, you’re told that every password should be unique, that you should change it often & that you shouldn’t write it down!

A ‘good’ password is over 8 characters (more characters is more secure), with a mix of upper & lowercase letters, numbers & symbol/s.

Avoid the temptation to use easily guessed passwords – dates, names,  famous people, football teams, qwerty, 111111, letmein etc. 123456 is the most widely used password and any hacker will try this straight away. If there is an obvious word or pattern, it is easy to hack!

Spending just a short time devising a good password policy, then adhering to it, could save you hours of frustration or worry in the future!

Managing passwords yourself: Try to have a secure password policy but be realistic – changing passwords often is less important than having good, unique ones in the first place.

The same password for Facebook or emails & your Bank is asking for trouble! Emails contain a lot of personal information, so ensure they have good one! At the very least have different passwords for social media, online shopping, email and Banks. 

Deliberately misspelled words or having certain letters of each word from a phrase is quite secure. E.g. #1dznBRDegs! or #1dobieg! (from: 1 dozen bird eggs!).

Most secure are random passwords (search for ‘random password generators’), e.g. ju9gl!Vfv#7P.

Norton offers an easy to use one: https://my.norton.com/extspa/idsafe?path=pwd-gen

But as unlikely it is to be hacked, it is equally unlikely to be remembered, so you will need to write it down or if you save it on your computer make sure the document or spreadsheet is password protected and encrypted. The latest versions of Microsoft Office Word & Excel automatically encrypt password protected files, so this is easy.

Isn’t there an easier way? Yes! Web browsers include a free, useful password saving option. Chrome, Edge & FireFox will usually ask you if you want to save the password and this is relatively safe as long as you do not lose your laptop. Create an account and they will even sync the passwords between your different devices!

This link shows how to use (Google) Chrome’s Password Manager:

https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95606?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en

Password Manager software – similar to the Web Browsers save password feature – is a separate program that creates complex passwords & fills them in automatically. You only need to remember the one password for the program and that needs to be a very secure password. These are usually pay for but some will remember a small number of passwords for free. Your Internet Security software may even include one!

A small selection of Password Manager programs to consider:

KeePass (Free): https://keepass.info/
Dashlane: https://www.dashlane.com/
LastPass: https://www.lastpass.com/
1Password: https://1password.com/

Never give your passwords to anyone & always check websites are genuine before adding the password!

Finally, wherever you can, it is usually very secure if you enable a feature (if available) called  ‘Two Factor Authentication’ for important sites. Despite the technical sounding name, this simply means the site will need two forms of authentication – so your password plus a code. The code will either be emailed to you or sent by SMS to your mobile phone. This means even if someone guesses your password, they will likely not have access to your phone and thus not get any further. Not every website offers this but it is becoming more common and in some cases is insisted upon.

Managing passwords can be easy if you decide on a strategy and stick to it!