May 5th, 2016 was World Password Day. People have to remember a password or a pin number for everything, whether it is for online banking, shopping, email or social media accounts. According to recent surveys, about 36 percent of the population feel overwhelmed by the amount of passwords that they need. After all, according to more research, each user has on average 17 passwords for their various apps/websites.

A big mistake that many people make is that they use passwords which are based on personal information, since it will be easier for them to remember. Unfortunately, attackers know this as well. Commonly used text passwords involve partner’s, pet’s, siblings’, or children’s names. It isn’t just standard text passwords either, numerical passwords can also be easily guessed by trying out the birth year, month or day of a target.  A combination of different case as well as numbers offers a lot more security, but still isn’t enough.  You want to have a password with at least 8 different characters and digits, as this will offer a much higher degree of security.

Here is an example of a great way to create a strong and secure password. Think of a sentence that you can easily remember, that includes numbers in it. Then use the first character of each word and the numbers in it to create your password.  For example, Alpha Computer Support was founded in 1999 by Paul Meyer. Today, on May 5, I will create a strong password with at least 16 characters.

The resulting password is: ACSwfi1999bPM

Strong passwords are only one ingredient for stronger security on the web.  We have established a small checklist to aid you in building your online security.

  • Change your passwords often: Users need to change their passwords for their online accounts on a regular basis. It isn’t advisable to reuse password across multiple devices, it is much better to use a unique password should be chosen for every online service or social media network.
  • Use strong antivirus/malware protection: In most homes, multiple devices are used to access the web, so all of these devices should be considered when you are checking your security. This includes desktop PCs as well as smartphone, tablet PCs or notebooks. All devices need to have current malware protection, to help you stay safe from viruses, trojans, ransomware, and other threats that might try to steal your information.
  • Keep software up to date: Your operating system and all installed applications on your systems needs to be kept up to date at all times.  Security updates prevent flaws from being exploited, which can be used to gain access to your personal information.