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The power of the password

Big name brands falling foul of cyber-attacks makes for eye-catching headlines, and this can make it all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that cyber risks only impact large corporations. The sad truth is that any one of us can become victims of cyber-crime.

Technology makes the world go round, especially in these times of remote working, connected devices and smart gadgets. But have you stopped to think about how secure your personal accounts and devices are?

Protecting ourselves against Cyber-crime can seem daunting and confusing. In a world where the crime itself is seemingly invisible, where do you start?

One of the simplest things you can do to help ward off a cyber-attack is use a strong password. It might sound like such a basic piece of advice, but a password consisting of just a short string of numbers i.e. 246810 can be hacked instantly, whereas a password of three unique words like PurpleTangerineCar can take 6 billion years to hack. If you add some numbers and symbols, for example –  6PurpleTangerineCar93! – it’ll take a whopping 7 quadrillion years to hack!

How to create a strong memorable password:

  • Use words that are memorable to you
  • Don’t use personal details like a partner’s, child’s or pet’s name
  • Don’t use typical character substitutions i.e. Pa55word
Table showing times to hack a password

Source: Hive Systems

In an increasingly data-hungry world, creating and remembering a three-word password can also feel daunting. Don’t worry if that’s the case for you, there are other tools available to help you boost your online security.

Password Managers

Many devices now have an app called a password manager that securely stores your passwords. Some can synchronise across your devices and many can even automatically enter the appropriate password into apps and websites on your behalf. If you’re using a password manager the National Cyber Security Centre highly recommend you set up two factor authentication.

Two factor authentication

Accounts that have been set up with two factor authentication (2FA) are far more secure. Even if a criminal finds out your password with 2FA set up they won’t be able to access your accounts. There are various forms of 2FA ranging from a facial or fingerprint scan to a specific code being sent in a text message to a device you’ve designated. 2FA only takes a few minutes to set up and is well worth the time.

Install the latest software and app updates

A further way you can help protect yourself against cyber-criminals is to make sure you keep your devices up to date with the latest software and app updates. These renewals in code contain vital security updates. You’ll often receive a prompt on your device that the software or app is ready to update. Don’t ignore these. It might mean your favourite app isn’t available for a few minutes but better that than falling victim to identity theft.

For more information on how we can help you manage your cyber risk, contact Matthew Clark