Passwords are virtual keys to our personal life online; the secretive it is, the safer are our online accounts. In simple terms, you can say that an online password is comparable to the combination code for our bank account- which means, a weak one like 1234ABCD or even DCBA4321 is so much easier to crack by any layman, let alone cyber criminals. Cyber security experts therefore can’t stress enough on the need for creating a STRONG password. And it goes without saying that passwords are the keys to digital identities, they HAVE to be KEPT SAFE and PRIVATE. Also, it is always advisable from a security point that DIFFERENT PASSWORDS are used for different accounts. Otherwise, if someone cracks your password, they can access all your online accounts, data and personal information!
As an additional security measure, many sites today have advised users to change passwords regularly. Now we all agree that to create unique passwords every couple of months and then to keep a record of it every single time can get really challenging, don’t we? But do consider this- if you use a simple password (instead of a hard to guess phrase), for e.g. your name and date of birth, then you stand a strong chance of becoming a victim of a password hacker. Therefore, I for one, always opt for different passwords for my different accounts online and also update them regularly.So what can you do too?
Solution A– Use a reputed security software that offers a PASSWORD MANAGER facility
Solution B– Devise an easy to remember strategy to create strong passwords. You may write them down in a diary, but remember to keep it safe & private. Never keep records of passwords on your mobile or save in a word document which can be accessed by anyone. You could save the password as a hint to help recall in times of doubt. For example: If your password is Football11, you could jot down a hint that will help you recall it, say, favourite team sport (football being the favourite sport and 11 being the number of players in the team).
So, what should you be keeping in mind while creating a password?
- It should be strong
- It should be unique
- It should be a combination of case, alphabets, special characters and numbers
- It should be easy for you to remember
Tip: Try passphrases that have been contracted to a word and consist of alphabets, numbers and special characters.
Example 1: Use favourite books/movies/TV shows to form passwords.
Start with, say, your favourite movie: “Batman Forever” (This is something every comic fan will like)
Form a password by omitting all vowels: btmnfrvr
Next, add a special character and a number to show that it’s your top choice: btmnfrvr#1
Now you have a 10 character password that makes sense only to you. You can change the number to 2 and then 3, or the first and last letters to capital and voila! You have a new password. Like this – BtmnfrvR#1. Got it?
You can make the password a little tougher to crack without making much alteration, like this– BtmnFrvr(1).
Example 2: This one is for doting grandparents. You know you can’t use your own name and birthdate to form passwords, but you can use your grandchildren’s names/nicknames. Also, you can add some numbers and characters to signify special events. Like this:
Say you have two grandchildren. Use their names and unique characteristics to create a password. Say their names are Laila and Suman. Start with LailaSuman
Suppose Laila started talking at 1 and Suman at 2. (Grandparents do remember these things, and it’s pretty amazing too!). Add in these numbers: Laila1Suman2
For the next change, you can add special characters like Laila@1Suman@2 and you have a strong 14 character password.
That was easy, wasn’t it? With practice, you can become really skilled at creating really good passwords.
Example 3: A third strategy is to use a formula based on “name-place(space)-year”.
Suppose you met/married Niharika in Mumbai in 1974. So a password from spouse nickname@wedding venue/(spacebar)/year would be something like NiharMum 1974. Now you can make it a wee bit complex by replacing 1974 with the special characters on the same keys. All you have to do is to hold the SHIFT key while you press 1-9-7-4.
Now the password is -> Nihar@Mum !(&$
You can also create a very easy to remember passphrase sequence using part of your name and some other info.
Suppose your name is Mahesh. You have been living in Delhi since 2001. Your password can be MahDel0115 (Mahesh/Delhi/2001-2015)
Next year just change the dates and you get MahDel0116.
These are but some examples. I am sure you have many bright ideas and some really good password tricks up your sleeves. Please share with us your password ideas by leaving comments below.
Things to remember:
- Passwords should be kept secret & shared only with very trusted people like parents or spouse (until and unless necessary). If shared, do remember to change it soon.
- To never access public Wi-Fi to log in to your social media accounts as it’s easier to steal passwords if you are using unsecured Wi-Fi
- Never use a single password for your e-mail, social media accounts and online banking accounts.
Have fun creating new passwords and remember, safety is both a right and a responsibility.
Stay safe online folks!!