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Password Protection – Protect Yourself Online

In today’s ever developing online world, passwords provide the first line of defense against unauthorised access to your computer and personal information. You need to create a password to do just about everything online, from checking your emails to online banking.

While it may be simpler to use a short, easy to remember password, this can cause serious risks to your online security. Think about all of the personal information and details you have stored online; things like your full name, address, school or workplace, date of birth, bank details, credit card details (if you have one), the list is endless! This is why protecting those details with a strong password has never been more important. The stronger your password, the more protected you will be from identity theft, scams, hackers and malicious software.

Did you know…

  • 90% of internet users worry about their online information getting hacked.
  • 51% of people use the same password for work and personal accounts.
  • The password ‘123456’ is used by nearly 23 million account holders.
  • ‘Eva’ and ‘Alex’ are the most commonly used names in passwords.
  • The average password contains eight characters or less.

Source: password-statistics

The above statistics are very worrying and many people, especially children and young people, may not fully understand how important it is to ‘take care’ of their personal information when they interact with others in the online world. It’s important to remind yourself and those in your care that passwords are vital to our personal and private data. They help protect us and keep our information secure.

How can passwords be hacked?

In today’s digital world, there are a lot of different ways hackers can get hold of your passwords. Some of the most common ways are:

Phishing: Phishing messages will ask you to click on a link and login to their website to ‘re-establish your account, confirm details, claim a rebate etc’. However, this will be a malicious link or attachment that downloads malware (malicious software that hacks your device). It will be cleverly designed to imitate the real thing. Any information you input will go straight to the scammers. This can lead to money being stolen from your bank account or your information being sold to other criminals.

Password Spraying: Password spraying is an attack where the hacker has access to your username or email but not your password, so they will attempt to access your account by entering a few commonly used passwords. This will last for a few times before your account is frozen. This is also known as a ‘brute force attack’ as the hacker will use this method against many different accounts.

Credential Stuffing: This is a cyber-attack method where hackers will use lists of previously compromised passwords and data and run them through automated software that searches account details for a match. This is based on the assumption that many users reuse usernames and passwords and enables them to find multiple accounts belonging to someone who uses the same password (which about 50% of us do).

Local Discovery: It is important to remember that not all hackers are virtual. Local discovery occurs when you write down or use your password somewhere where it can be seen in plain text. Hackers find the password and use it. Hackers can also pick up passwords and PINs (Personal Identification Numbers) by watching over your shoulder as you put your password/pin in and Wi-Fi eavesdropping (intercepting public Wi-Fi networks to collect data from other users).

Using shared or public computers can be convenient and is often necessary. But there are risks involved so protect your data when using one:

  • Don’t let the computer remember you
  • Always sign out of your accounts
  • Never walk away from the computer while you’re signed in
  • Avoid prying eyes
  • Avoid banking and other confidential transactions

Tips for a Strong Password

It is important to make sure that every password used by those in your home is strong enough to protect them from any risk. The below tips will help everyone stay safe and secure online:

  • Create a unique password for every account
  • Choose random words that are easy for you to remember and harder for others to guess
  • Add some numbers and characters
  • Change your password regularly – at least 4 times each year
  • Disable and clear any automatically stored passwords on your browsers
  • Install a verified password manager to help you remember them securely

Take this opportunity to check up on your password security.  Use this helpful tool to check just how secure your password is. Remember – your password might be the only thing keeping your important details safe.


Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

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