Cyber Awareness Month - Passwords and Password Managers

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As we are getting closer to the holiday seasons, such as Halloween and Christmas, I am sure we all have multiple accounts for shopping on many websites.  Creating, storing and remembering passwords can be a pain for all of us online, but the truth is that passwords are your first line of defence against cyber-criminals and data breaches.

The Northern Ireland Cyber Security Centre advises everyone to follow these best password practices:

  • Use a strong and separate password for your personal email account and all other accounts.
  • Use a strong and separate password for any work accounts.

Create strong passwords using three random words - when you use different passwords for your important accounts, it can be hard to remember them all.

Do not use words that can be guessed (like your pet’s name). You can include numbers and symbols if you need to. For example, “Random5Bypass8Threat&!”

Saving your passwords for personal accounts in your web browser will help you manage them and can protect you against some cybercrime, such as fake websites.

Don’t Pass On Password Managers

I’m sure we have all used one password to secure multiple, maybe even all, of our digital accounts.

By doing this it becomes even more unsafe for our accounts over time.

Once a cyber-criminal is able to get that one password because of a breach, it becomes a skeleton key for your whole cyber life.

This compromised password can be used to gain access to all your accounts and sensitive information.

Great news; password managers which are pieces of software that often take the form of apps, browser plugins.

With a few clicks, you can generate new, secure passwords that long, unique and complex. These passwords manager automatically store your passwords and can autofill them when you arrive at the site.

Password managers literally take a few minutes to get started with

Fill in all your passwords at once, or just add a few passwords for your key accounts (email and social media, for example) and add more over time. Many times when you log into a site, your password manager will ask if you want to store the password – click yes, and another account is secured. 

Password Manager Advantages

  • Saves Time
  • Works across all your personal devices and operating systems
  • Protects your identity
  • Notifies you of potential phishing websites

Here is why a password manager is the best for keeping your passwords safe:

Encryption: Quality password managers encrypt all of the passwords stored on them. This means that your passwords would be basically impossible to decode if a hacker tried to breach your password manager.

Multi-Factor Authentication: Because your password vault on a password manager is so valuable, the best password managers require multi-factor authentication for you to log in. This means that anyone trying to view your passwords from unfamiliar device will need to log in multiple ways. This can include a facial ID, fingerprint scan, inputting a code you get in an SMS text message or approving the log-in attempt on a separate app.

To find out more on multi-factor authentication please read last week’s cybersecurity awareness month article.


Password Manager Options

There are many different free or paid password managers available for personal or business use.

Come back next week for our third tip on protecting your cyber-self.

For further information please visit StaySafeOnline or National Cyber Security Centre(NCSC)

Information adopted from National Cybersecurity Alliance – Cybersecurity Awareness Month