With more and more consumers carrying out everyday transactions on the Internet, good data protection and information security is becoming more and more important. Online banking sites, shopping portals, email accounts and a host of other different Internet sites all require a level of user security, normally comprising one or more passwords. Follow these simple guidelines when choosing a new password, in order to optimize the security of your accounts.
Use a mixture of different characters. Both upper- and lowercase letters (that is, a and A) are considered best practice when choosing password. Try to use both numbers and letters and, if permitted, special characters such as @ or $. A variety of different characters makes it much harder for automated programs to hack your account.
Make it easy for you but hard for everyone else. As outlined in the password security guidelines for The University of Texas at Austin, aim to choose a password that you can type quickly. This makes it harder for somebody else to read it over your shoulder. Ensure that you can remember your password so that you don’t have to write it down.
Don’t use personal information. Your surname, forename, place of birth, Social Security number or pet’s name are all bad things to use in a password, simply because somebody could find that information elsewhere.
Use different passwords on different sites. You are likely to have a host of different accounts. Never use the same password across all your accounts. If a hacker or intruder learns your password on one account, then he or she will be able to gain access to all the others, too. Choose unique passwords as much as possible, or at least a selection of different passwords to make it harder.
Avoid using words longer than three letters. Hackers can sometimes use automated programs that rapidly crack passwords that comprise longer words. These programs can just as easily scan backwards or forwards, so simply spelling the word in reverse won’t help.