A strong, unique password is one of the simplest ways we can thwart cyber criminals, but millions of us are making basic mistakes, according to an NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) survey.
It found that 15% of Brits used the names of their pets as a password, 13% used significant dates such as birthdays, and 6% used their favourite sports team.
These may be easy to remember, but the information is easy for criminal hackers – particularly if they can find it online.
Similarly, using personal details for your password exposes you to a breach from someone you know. Perhaps it’s an ex who’s trying to break into and sabotage your Facebook account, or maybe it’s a colleague who is trying to gain access to sensitive information that they’re not privy to.
No matter who the threat actor is, we must create better passwords.
For many people, the problem is thinking of, and remembering, an increasingly large number of credentials. The NCSC estimates that 27% of Brits created four or more password-protected accounts in 2020.
When you factor in existing email accounts, social media, work accounts and any other number of online services, how can anyone keep track of so many passwords?
How to create strong, memorable passwords
You may have been told that the trick to creating a strong password is to use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.
That certainly won’t hurt, but the issue is that many people’s passwords are only superficially strengthened by doing this. A password that was once, say, ‘buster’ now becomes ‘Buster1’ in a technique that criminal hackers are all too aware of.
That’s why the NCSC instead recommends that people use passwords comprised of three random words.
The chances of an attacker guessing all three words – and in the right order – are astronomical, yet it’s not especially hard for you to remember.
It may take a few combinations of random words to create something that you’re happy with, but the result will be a much stronger password – and you’ll save vast amounts of time in the future trying to remember it.