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Two-minute tech-check: Passwords

Hearing that we need to create strong passwords is kind of like being told we need to look both ways before crossing the road – of course we know we should, but we don’t always do it. 

Sometimes convenience can seem more important than security, so it’s tempting to go for something that’s easy to remember over a long, convoluted jumble of special characters.

But as the increase in cybercrime during lockdown has shown us, there are lots of people out there who don’t have our best interest at heart – so it’s a good idea to make sure our data is secure.

Is your child about to create their first social media profile? Or do you think your own passwords might need overhauling? Here are our top tips to setting strong, secure passwords and protecting your personal information.

Make it unique

The first step towards making sure your password is up to scratch is checking that you’ve got a good mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. However, this doesn’t have to be as complicated to remember as it sounds.

Start off by finding a word or word combination that will be hard to guess – it might help to break out the old thesaurus for inspiration! Putting three random words together is a good approach: for example, RabbitFootballJigsaw. Then look for opportunities where you can replace letters with numbers and special characters, so you end up with R@bbitF00tb@llJigs@w. This simple, yet effective, trick adds another layer of complexity to a password that you or your child will still be able to remember.

Choose different passwords

Having a strong password is key, but no password is bulletproof. A good way to minimise the damage of having a password leaked is to use different passwords for different platforms. That way, if you or your child are unlucky enough to have one of your accounts taken over by a hacker, the rest of your personal information will be safe.

Don’t write them down or share them

It might sound obvious, but don’t store your passwords anywhere – say in a note on your phone or on a post-it on your fridge – or share it with anyone. Memorising a dozen different, complicated passwords in your head is no small feat, but it’s safer to reset a password you can’t remember once in a while than having loose ends.