How to protect your valuable data with strong passwords

With so much of our personal information stored online these days, everything seems to require a password. But using an easy-to-hack password like ‘password123’ is not the solution, because your password is your main defence against hackers ­and the best way to keep your information secure.

Data breaches have become a regular occurrence. If you use the same password for more than one account, one successful hack could put them all at risk.

A few clever tricks can help you create and remember strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts. Good password practices will protect your critical accounts, which include those with access to money and sensitive information, as well as work and private email accounts.

Follow these tips to thwart any would-be hacker:

  • Use strong, unique passwords – secure passwords are easy to remember but hard to guess. Don’t use the exact same password for multiple online accounts.
  • Size matters – passwords should be at least 10 characters long, and the longer, the better. Use this trick to create a strong password:
    1. Think of a phrase or a song, for example, ‘Taking pictures of myself, self, self’
    2. Take the first letter of each word: Tpom,s,s
    3. Add numbers and characters, for example, #1995Tpom,s,s;-)
  • Use a password stem to remember unique passwords – add a different pre- or postfix to your password for each account. This makes remembering multiple unique passwords easier, for example, #1995Tpom,s,s:-)@FB for Facebook.
  • Use a password manager for your personal accounts – a password manager for your non-work accounts simplifies the task of managing multiple passwords. You can install a password manager on your phone to make your life easier and your accounts more secure. Some web browsers such as Google Chrome also have a built-in password manager.
  • Use multifactor authentication where possible – this method combines your password with another form of authentication, such as a one-time password or one-time PIN (OTP). You can install an app such as Google Authenticator on your phone to make it easier to use multifactor authentication. Most sites support this extra layer of security. If you use it, hackers will need an OTP to sign into your account even if they’ve stolen your password.