How safe is your password? Top tips to protect yourself when going online
Cyber crooks are getting increasingly devious when it comes to tricking internet users into revealing their personal information, says Hazel Joseph, CrestClean’s IT and CRM Systems Administrator.
But while people are now more aware of online scams, many others are making themselves vulnerable by picking ridiculously simple passwords that are easy to figure out, says Hazel
According to Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, one of the most common passwords people use is “password”. Simply typing in the word has allowed fraudsters to gain access to a 3.6 million accounts worldwide. Another 23.2 million people used “123456” as their password, only to find their code was cracked.
So what’s the best way to come up with a secure password? “Use your creative mind and don’t be lazy and go for the obvious like your partner or pet’s name,” says Hazel.
“Don’t fall into the trap of picking something that can easily be guessed by people who get your basic details. Some people might use their husband or wife’s name followed by “01” to create a password.” says Hazel. “Or they will used their home address or workplace address. This is just asking for trouble.
“Creating strong, unique passwords for all your critical accounts is the best way to keep your personal and financial information safe.
“Make sure that you are not using the same password on more than one website or online account login.” she says.
One idea is to combine two languages as a novel way to create a unique combination of words.
However, passwords should never be saved on the device that you are accessing the internet, says Hazel. “We should always have security uppermost in our mind when we go on line.
“When you log in never save your password when prompted. While you’re surfing the internet there could be some software installed on your computer, which is working behind the scenes, and it can send you password to the spammers. You wouldn’t be aware this is happening.”
Keeping all your software updated on your internet-enabled devices, so you have the latest security patches, is also essential, says Hazel. “Turn on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it.”
Be cautious where you access the internet, particularly where access is free, she says.
“Don’t connect to an open Wi-Fi if you are going to do any internet banking. Someone could be just be waiting to get access to your information. They are very clever, and can use software to obtain your password, so be cautious on what you access on free networks.”
Care is also needed if you have a computer at home that’s shared by several family members. “It’s important to have different accounts for each user,” says Hazel.
Having separate accounts, which can be locked down with restrictions, lessens the likelihood of spammers gaining access to the computer, she added.
“A child might be watching a cartoon online for instance and something pops up on the screen and they just click on it and it immediately installs some spyware or malware. If you have logged in with the right browser it cannot do this.”