8 Tips on How you can Improve your Password Security

22 December, 2021

The amount of time the average person spends online is increasing. There are a plethora of tasks - shopping, banking, social media, TV streaming - that people carry out online everyday that require password protected logins, meaning password security is becoming an increasingly bigger issue. 

Unfortunately, most people’s passwords are either very simple or they use the same one for multiple accounts, leaving them vulnerable to cyber criminals. On average, people have 25-30 online profiles or accounts and only use 5 different passwords for all of them. Moreover, thousands of people still use basic passwords such as ‘123456’ or ‘password’. While these are easy to remember, you may as well be giving your money straight to the hackers. 
 

Here are 8 tips on how you can improve your password security and avoid falling victim to cyber criminals. 

 

Make Your Passwords Long

Cyber criminals use a number of methods to try and gain access to your accounts. The most basic way is to target you personally and manually type in letters, numbers and symbols to guess your password. However, the more advanced ones will use a method known as a ‘brute force attack’. Here a computer system will run through every possible combination of letters, numbers and symbols very quickly in an attempt to crack your password. Passwords that are three characters long take two seconds to crack. The best passwords are 12-15 characters long. 
 

Include Numbers, Symbols, and Uppercase and Lowercase Letters

Randomly mixing up symbols and numbers with letters is another great way to improve your password security. Substituting a zero for the letter O or @ for the letter A will help keep your accounts out of the hands of hackers. If your password is a phrase, try capitalising the first letter of every word - this will make it easier to remember. 

 

Use Two-Factor Authentication 

Creating a two-factor authentication can stop a cyber criminal from gaining access to your accounts even if your password is compromised. It works as a mechanism to check if your identity is legitimate. With two-factor authentication, when you sign into your account you are prompted with a username and password - that's the first security layer. The second step in the process will want to re-confirm your identity by sending you an email or text message with a code in which you have to enter. 

If you want to go that extra mile and really keep your passwords secure, you can download apps such as Google Authenticator or an RSA token. These are designed to combat targeted and sophisticated attackers who exploit vulnerabilities in cell phone technology and use techniques such as swapping SIM cards.  

 

Do Not Reuse Passwords

Using unique passwords for your accounts is so important. When cyber criminals complete large-scale hacks, as they have done with popular email servers in the past, the lists of compromised accounts are often leaked online. Therefore, if your account becomes compromised and you use that same email and password over multiple accounts, you put them all at risk of being hacked. 

 

Avoid Letting Your Computer Remember your Password

Of course we all know that we should never allow a web browser to save our information on a public computer. There is the obvious risk that the next person who uses the computer will have access to all your information. 

However, even when using your personal device, it is still a good idea to never do this. There is no point having a long, complex password if all a malicious party has to do is gain entry to your computer and can access all your accounts. 

 

Change Your Passwords Regularly 

The more sensitive your information is, the more often you should change your password. Regularly changing your passwords means that if someone has gained access to your account it won’t stay compromised. It works as a safety net. Once your password is changed, try not to use it again for any accounts for a long time. 

 

Start using a password manager 

We understand that having complex passwords across multiple accounts and changing them regularly has made password security increasingly complicated. That’s why we suggest using a password manager service that can not only auto-generate strong passwords on your behalf, but will aslo store them. These passwords are kept encrypted in a centralised location which you can access with a master password (Don’t forget that one!). 

 

Be on the Alert for Phishing Attempts

Increasingly, scammers are using sophisticated impersonation techniques to trick users into giving away important information. They do this by sending messages with trusted logos along with an emergency warning with a link to a fake website, where users often unwittingly hand over their credentials. Or it could be a spam message from someone pretending to be a friend, with a link that contains a ‘worm’ and once clicked grants the hackers access to your personal information. 

Password security is complex and ever changing. With more and more of our daily tasks moving online, having strong and protected passwords has never been more important. While we take your banking security very seriously here at CWCU, these 8 tips are simple things you can do at home that will greatly reduce your risk of falling victim to cyber criminals. 

Contact us today if you have any questions about your password security.