World Password Day 2017

This blog has been written for Webfactory by Trinity College student of English and French, Orla Howells. Orla spent some time with our content team this April as part of the TCD GradLink programme.

We are celebrating World Password Day which takes place on the 4th of May. This year’s campaign slogan is #LayerUp. This encourages users to create strong, layered passwords through techniques such as fingerprints and two-step verification. These simple techniques will go far in ensuring your online security.

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Why your password security matters

Today’s digital world is often threatened by hackers and data breaches, so it is important to protect yourself and your information with a secure, layered password. It’s not just anonymous hackers you need to think about, it’s also important to protect yourself from people you know in real life. If you’ve fallen out with or broken up with someone, or lost your device, then your online identity could be at risk.

Email, social, your website or blog - they are all vulnerable

Hackers will often target email accounts, as these can be used to reset passwords of social media accounts or access bank accounts.

Once you lose a social media account to a hacker it can be incredibly difficult to get back. That could have serious repercussions if you use such an account as part of your job and have built up an important audience.

If you run a blog or website be sure not to use your username as your admin password. It’s a well known weakness, which is easy to exploit. All the more reason to use a strong password. See tips below.

Basic rules for passwords

Here are a few basic rules that will help improve your password strength:

  • Length is important, ideally at least 12 characters long
  • Use a combination of characters
  • Avoid dictionary words and clichés
  • Be obscure and avoid personal information

Use phrases

One great way to generate a secure password is by coming up with a phrase and reducing it to initials and numbers. These phrases could be nursery rhymes, quotations, or your own creations, e.g. “Little Bo Peep Has Lost Her Sheep” translates to LbpH1h5. Remember to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters.

Here is a phrase and password created by CMT Writer, Sharon Profis: "I hope the Giants will win the World Series in 2016!" changes to IhtGwwtWSi2016!

An Irish example could be “Dublin for Sam 2017!” to “D4s2017!”

Consider a password manager

Password managers are becoming increasingly popular, and often have useful tools such as autocomplete and password generators. LastPass and Dashlane are free to use, but you need to pay to sync mobile and desktop devices together. Sticky Password has free and premium plans available.

Which is the most secure password manager?

There are unique advantages to both Dashlane and Sticky Password. Dashlane has a master password system which keeps your other passwords secure. Sticky Password uses fingerprint recognition on mobile devices, also keeping your passwords secure. LastPass is not as secure, and has had data breaches in the past.

Two-step verification

Another way of protecting your online security is by enabling two-step verification, which makes it harder for hackers to access accounts such as Facebook and Gmail. Two-step verification means that when you log in to your social account on a new device you will have to input a code sent to your mobile phone. It may seem like a hassle but it’s well worth it for peace of mind.

At Webfactory, we manage multiple social media accounts for many of our clients and have to employ rigorous measures to ensure their security.

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Taking extra steps to be secure

Now that you have a more secure password, further steps you can take to maintain security are:

  • Never send out your password via email or over the phone
  • Always clear browser cache after using public PCs
  • Update your password on a regular basis
  • Never reuse the same password and ensure that you have different passwords for each online account

Further information

Here are some links which should help you work out how secure your password is:

  1. www.gcflearnfree.org/internetsafety/creati... This has a useful video and examples of bad passwords.
  2. www.howsecureismypassword.net This tool will tell you how secure your password is.
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Orla Howells

Trinity College

The author

Orla is a Trinity College student of English and Sociology. Orla spent some time with our content team this April as part of the TCD GradLink programme.

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