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Repeat after me – password security is important!

You may feel like you have heard cyber-security experts reinforce the need for secure passwords a million times and think you are doing everything right, however surveys say otherwise. According to several recent studies, anywhere from 55% to 91% of those surveyed use the same password for multiple accounts. And, as recently as last year, the top ten passwords still included: 1,2,3,4,5; password; iloveyou; letmein and admin.

If you are confident you know what to do to make and keep passwords safe and you actually do it, then bravo; you are what some might call a cyber-unicorn! However, Steve Gregory, Technical Architect at TLC Solutions says, “Most people know what they should be doing, but tend to take the easy path and use the same password for multiple sites or create passwords from their address, children’s names or other easy to remember words and numbers. All of that makes them vulnerable to hacking.”

So, if you’re being completely honest and could use a reminder for how to safeguard your online identity, the following tips may help get you on the right track.

Create a unique password for each account

Common reasons for using the same password across multiple accounts include the fear of forgetting passwords or a laid-back feeling that ‘no one is ever going to want to hack “little old me”’. The reality is that this thinking puts you at risk.

Using a different password (and not by adding an ! at the end of the usual one you use) for each account is important. It is also a good idea to use unique formats for personal and work applications.

Use a good password to protect your information

A ‘good’ password is one that includes at least one capital letter, one number and one symbol. The latest research on password security also indicates that length equals password strength. A longer password is more secure; try to use 12 characters when possible.

Change your password often

Just as you change the filter in your furnace regularly, you should practise good security “hygiene” as well; that means changing passwords at least once or twice a year. “It’s really easy to set a reminder to switch them up regularly. It doesn’t take long to do while binge-watching your favourite TV show on a Sunday afternoon for example,” says Gregory. Also, if a company you visit online often is in the news for a security breach, make sure you act quickly to change your account password.

Store passwords in a secure location

Hopefully it is obvious not to keep passwords in a folder on your phone or computer labelled Passwords, or write them down in a notebook you keep handy because there are some good options for storing passwords securely. According to password security company LastPass, the average business user has 191 passwords to manage.

Using a secure program to store your passwords can be both convenient and provide a sense of security. Some reputable companies that provide secure password storage include: LastPass, KeePass, 1password, Dashlane and Keeper.

While new forms of encryption are becoming more popular – think fingerprint and iris recognition among other options – the world is stuck for now with character-based passwords and will continue to be for several years. Companies like TLC Solutions can provide you with many security measures but in the end, it is up to you to manage your passwords. With this in mind, just a little effort and thought will go a long way to keeping your online presence safe and secure.