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Password Security Tips: 8 Ways to Improve Password Hygiene

by | Oct 15, 2021 | Cyber Security

Although password security is an obvious aspect, it is often overlooked and even taken for granted. Good password hygiene is the first line of defense against hackers. Many of us follow basic criteria to make a ‘strong’ password, but what about other methods that can take your cyber security to the next level? Let’s explore them here.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than the half of employees in Canada transitioned to remote work. In the post-COVID world, a large percentage continues to work remotely with a minimal chance of returning to physical office spaces, at least in a full-time capacity. Although this “new reality” does offer numerous benefits, remote work is also providing a breeding ground for cybercriminals. A flurry of new threats, technologies, and business models have emerged as the whole world has shifted to remote work. Why Is Password Security Important? Password security has always been a hot topic since the internet’s inception. Once upon a time, reliably securing your accounts was as simple as not setting your password as “password”. Unfortunately, the definition of a secure password has rapidly evolved to keep pace with hackers. With the continued advancement in sophisticated tools that hackers use, it appears that users are losing the fight. Surveys have found that about 60% of the company-related passwords fail to meet minimum security requirements. This lapse can have catastrophic consequences: in fact, most breaches occur due to poor password security. This is especially problematic due to a stark increase in cloud adoption, as more and more sensitive information is stored in a cloud environment and logins are the first line of defense against hackers that want to use that information for nefarious purposes. Even when there are other reliable security measures in place, a truly secure password is always a must.
Password Security

Is your password secure?

  1. Variety is the key A truly secure password should on no accounts consist only of letters. You must use numbers, special characters and capitals to make a cyberattack more difficult. Make sure you don’t use words out of the dictionary. Instead, use a string of words, letters, numbers, symbols and non-dictionary words.
  2. Length matters It’s easy: the longer the password, the harder it is to crack. While most sites state a minimum of 8 characters, strive to use something 12 characters or longer.
  3. Don’t reuse passwords Imagine if you used the same key for your house, car, office, and mailbox. Losing one key would give someone the power to take almost everything from you. Despite this, 13 percent of users report using the same weak password on all virtual accounts, with about 52 percent of users admitting they use the same password across many (but not all) accounts. Dumb, right?
  4. Don’t trust your browser You might want to think twice about letting your browser remember passwords for you. Although it is convenient, any intruder who has gained unrestricted access to your computer can view and copy all of your passwords by visiting your browser’s settings page.
  5. Always use two-factor or multi-factor authentication It may sound complicated, but 2FA and MFA simply mean that instead of using just a username and password, a security system verifies your identity by requiring multiple credentials. Examples of a 2FA and MFA include codes sent via email address or in a text to your smartphone, fingerprints and facial recognition.
  6. Use a passphrase instead Passphrases easier to remember, even if they make no sense, and are next to impossible to crack because most of the highly efficient password cracking tools breaks down at around 10 characters. Hence, even the most advanced cracking tool won’t be able to guess, brute-force or pre-compute these passphrases.The following easy trick shows you how to create a secure password that only you remember. Think of a sentence and place the first letters in a row. The sentence, “My Name is Jack and I was born on 1 January 1900!” gives you the following password: “MNiJaIwbo1J1900!” It’s long, contains numbers, special characters, and caps, and it’s definitely not found in any dictionary.
  7. A password manager could be your saving grace If you don’t think you would remember “MNiJaIwbo1J1900!”, a password manager could be a great solution. There are many password managers to choose from, with diverse security and encryption options.
  8. Top secret! Some may believe that this tip is obvious, but it is still the most important one: Never give anyone your private password. Not even a friend, a colleague or spouse

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