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Tips on how to create and manage strong passwords

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What better day to talk about having strong passwords than on World Password Day? Our passwords are the only protection we have online against cyber criminals so the stronger you make it the tighter your security.

You’d be surprised what some people use as their password including “password” or 123456 or 00000.

Hopefully this doesn’t describe you.

If it does you might as well paint a target on yourself because it won’t be a case of if your accounts get hacked but when.

And to make matters worse, is not unusual for many to use the same password across all of their accounts so if one is compromised they are all compromised.

And if a password is cracked or stolen, the results could be catastrophic and not to mention costly.

But the alarming thing is that people still continue to use generic and easily crackable passwords including qwerty and 111111.

But the good news is there are a few things you can do to boost the strength of your passwords and also manage the passwords you have.

McAfee chief consumer security evangelist Gary Davis says with people storing so much personal data on the Internet, a strong password is an absolute must.

Users can actually check to see if their passwords have been exposed. If you go to a site such as haveibeenpwned.com you can see if your password or passwords have been compromised in a breach and if so change them wherever they are being used.

Here are his tips on creating strong passwords:

– Do not use common passwords and do not use simple personal details within your passwords. Basic personal info such as your birthday, family members’ names or pets’ names are easily guessable. The same applies for common passwords such as “password” or “qwerty.” The less obvious and more obscure, the better.

– Layer up your passwords. Passwords should always contain a variety of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Today, many systems enforce password requirements during the account set-up process, to ensure password strength.

– Choose unique passwords across all of your accounts. Many consumers utilise the same password, or variations of it, across all of their accounts. This means if a hacker discovers just one password, all personal info is suddenly at risk.

– Enable two- or multi-factor authentication. Two- or multi-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security, as it requires multiple forms of verification including a code sent to your mobile device. This reduces the risk of successful impersonation by hackers.

Another great option is to use a password manager like LastPass which can generate strong passwords and remember them for every account you have.

The only password you will need to remember is the master password.

A password manager works well in so many ways including:

– Creating long strong passwords. The most secure passwords are randomly generated, with multiple types of characters (numbers, letters, and symbols), and password managers can be used to both store and generate them. Tools within the app can create complex passwords so you can easily generate a different one for each website or app, helping to defend against hacking.

– Password managers can identify passwords that are at greatest risk and use the results to prioritise updating weak, reused, and compromised passwords.

– Password managers can also automatically change your password for you, by launching a website and amending the password in the background, so you can instantly enjoy stronger passwords.