Why You Need A Password Security Strategy
How many websites have you signed up to in the last twelve months? Have a think about it. Many websites ask you to register with an email address and a password so they can provide you with a user account. If you’ve joined an online forum, signed up to the latest and greatest social media site, bought something online, or signed up to receive special offers, chances are you’ve handed over your email address and a password.
Think about that password. Do you use it across lots of different websites and accounts? Perhaps you use the same email and password combination to access your email? You might also use the same details to login to social media sites, such as Twitter or Facebook?
Using the same password to access a lot of different websites might make it easier to remember, but what if that password were to fall into the wrong hands? One of the most lucrative areas of cybercrime is corporate hacking, where unsavoury people gain access to databases of customers’ login details.
Having a hacker know the email address and password that you use to access “Shiny Sam’s Awesome Site of Dealz” (not a real site) isn’t the end of the world. However, if you use those same details to login to your email account, online banking or shopping website, you could be headed for a world of hurt. This happened to Sony’s PS2 gaming network and also online gaming provider Steam’s database not so long ago. In both of these cases, the issue wasn’t just that the networks were compromised, but that customers’ email addresses and passwords were exposed.
If you’ve made the mistake of using the same email address and password for all your online activities, there are services that will help you discover if your details have been compromised. A website called Should I Change My Password keeps an eye on lists of compromised email addresses and lets you check whether yours has been involved in any known hacks.
What Strategies Can You Use to Improve Your Password Security?
Ideally, you should use a different password for every account you start. However, that can mean a lot of passwords! Now, there are password managers that will help you set up and manage this kind of system, such as Sticky Password, 1Password or LastPass. Alternatively, you can use a neat password separation technique, detailed here.
The other strategy you could use is to have a few passwords that you use for different accounts, and really good ones for your most important logins. For example, you should have a really strong password on your email account that you don’t use for any other logins. That way, even if a website were to be hacked that contained your email address, they wouldn’t be able to login to your email account because the passwords wouldn’t match. It’s also a good idea make sure your Internet banking password is different to any others you use, as well as any online shopping accounts that store your personal details (such as eBay or PayPal).