Security tips to stay safe online: securing your passwords

This is the second article in our online security series – and it’s about passwords.

Using strong passwords is essential when it comes to protecting yourself online. Our Security Administrator has the following advice:

Passwords

  1. 1. Never type your password unless the URL begins with https://.
  2. 2. Do not use the same password and security questions more than once.
  3. 3. Do not use simple/dictionary passwords (names, songs, movies, actors, latin names etc). Be smart and use a poem, proverb or phrase to create password. For instance, if you use, “I stand amid the roar Of a surf-tormented shore”, take the first letter of each word, and you get: IsatrOas-ts. You can always add some random characters as a prefix and suffix to be extra safe: .IsatrOas-ts,#. If you need any help generating a secure password, there are also sites that can do this for you – Norton is one of them.
  4. 4. Do not change your password by simply adding the next number at the end (eg IsatrOas-ts,1 –> IsatrOas-ts, 2 or IsatrOas-ts,1). These are too easily guessable.
  5. 5. If your account is ever compromised, change your password and security questions.
  6. 6. Never send your passwords and PIN number via email. Banks and other websites will never ask you for this information via email. If you receive an email that looks like a valid email from your bank and there are links to the login page, always be sceptical and verify the link carefully.
  7. 7. Use two-factor authentication to reduce the possibility of unwanted access to your account. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts – as well as your username and password, you’ll be asked for a piece of information that only you know in order to log in (eg a code that will be sent to your phone). Most of the main sites have implemented two-step verification (eg Google, Twitter and PayPal). And if you use a service like LastPass to store all your passwords, you should definitely use it with two-step authentication.

Learn more

Check out our tips for safely accessing your online accounts, and look out for our final article, which will cover the extra steps you can take to secure your systems.