Safety deposit boxes for our valuables, security systems for our homes, kryptonite locks for our bikes and yet the top two computer passwords people use in 2015 are “123456” and “password”.  Does this sound counterintuitive?  As an IT support and services company we come across this all the time and it is our job to promote best practices for secure computing.  As cloud computing, mobile technologies and online activity continue to grow, so does the number of passwords in our lives. We all know the difference between a strong and weak password, but how do you balance password strength with memorability?


Secure Passwords That are Memorable

The best passwords are ones that are both strong and easy to remember.  No one likes having to remember complicated passwords, and to make matters worse, keeping track of multiple passwords for different systems, apps and websites is a pain.  This is clearly a dilemma of the digital age.

To help solve this problem, here is an effective method to create a strong password that is easy to remember. Think of a meaningful sentence such as, “I get to work after 10 almost every day”.  Now take the first letter of each word to create the following password: Igtw@10Ed.  Please note, this is just an example and we are not recommending you start your day after 10:00 am each day.

Need Multiple Passwords for Different Systems?

No problem.  Instead of having a different password to login to every system you use, create a base password and then modify part of it for each system.  For example, let’s say you have a base password, $trongP@ss. Simply add the first 3 letters of the system or web-site you are using and add it to the end of the password.  For example, if you are logging into Linkedin, modify your base password to $trongP@ssLIN.  Similarly, make it $trongP@ssAMA for amazon.com etc.

Below are some additional tips for creating secure passwords when staring at those blank registration forms scattered across the Internet.

Best Practices for Strong Passwords

  • Include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • Use characters such as @#$%*& to improve complexity.
  • Use at least 8 characters minimum – 12 characters is ideal.
  • Don’t use your username.
  • Don’t use personal information – birthdays, spouse, childrens names are no no’s.
  • Substitute numbers and symbols for letters in words.
  • Avoid common words, quotes or song titles.
  • Keep it different from your other passwords.

Keep Your Passwords Safe

Having a strong password is only half the battle. There is no point in having a strong password if it’s written down on a post-it note under your keyboard. Remember, the idea is to prevent someone from accessing your sensitive information.  Remember the following:

  • Don’t share your password.
  • Don’t write down your password. If you must, secure it in a safe place (not under your keyboard).
  • Don’t use the “Remember password” option on websites and other software.
  • Never disclose or send passwords via e-mail.

Conclusion

In today’s digital age, ensuring the security of your personal and corporate data is critical.  Whether you own a small business or work for a large corporation, password security is everyone’s responsibility and it is the first line of defense against cyber crooks.  On a regular basis it is important to review and test your network, not only for for security vulnerabilities but also for peace of mind.

Infoware specializes in IT Support in the Greater Toronto Area and in the downtown core.  If you are interested in more information or would like a free consultation on your network, contact us today.

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Additional Resources For Secure Passwords

The following are some online tools to help you create strong passwords.

  • How Secure Is My Password – This password checker tells you how secure your password is and how long it will take a computer to compromise it.
  • Pass Creator – This is a password creation tool which can create random passwords, or ones with words of your choice in it.