Poster of passwords for Cyber Security Awareness Month

The use of a password is the most common method of authentication and has continued to be an essential part of our everyday life with technology, as this is necessary to prove our identity. As widely used as passwords are, most people don’t know much about them and how to ensure that they don’t get compromised. A report on common password used in 2016 ranked “123456” as the number 1 most used password of the year. This is an example of a password to avoid using. Below are some examples of how to create and manage passwords

Avoid using dictionary words: Avoiding dictionary words is the first step in ensuring that your password is not easily guessed or brute-forced. If you, however, insist on using dictionary words, you can make it more difficult to guess by changing some of the characters to numbers and symbols.

Longer is stronger: However you choose to interpret this, longer passwords are always stronger, as it takes more computing power to be able to get the password. NIST, in its new 2017 publication, recommends no limit to password length, but says that short passwords should be avoided. Good advice is to make a long but memorable "passphrase.” String a few words together that you can remember with a visual.

Avoid using repeated characters/patterns

Avoid using the same password across multiple platforms

Use two-factor authentication: Consider using two-factor authentication if the service provider makes this option available, as this adds another layer of protection. This ensures that even if your passwords get into the wrong hands, they won’t be able to log into your account without the second method of authentication. The second method of authentication will usually send a code to your phone or call your phone to further prove that you’re the one attempting to authenticate.

Use a reputable password manager: As the majority of our daily activities revolves around technology and we are constantly required to prove our identity via username and passwords, a number of people make the mistake of using the same passwords across multiple platforms in order to stay consistent and make it easier for them to know/remember their password. This is counter-productive, as it implies that if one of your accounts gets compromised, the attackers will have access to all your accounts. Instead, use a password manager and keep it safe. Most of the password managers can also help generate a password. Examples of Password managers are KeePass, 1Password, LastPass, Dashlane.