In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month this article is going to talk about how you can easily mitigate cyber risks to your work and personal accounts by simply creating and managing good passwords. We as users must remember that we are the biggest problem. But with a few small changes to our habits, we can make it better.
In a previous post we talked about how to mitigate account exposure from a hack by using good passwords. And don’t reuse them. Reusing your password means that if one of your accounts has been compromised then all of your accounts with that same password are now vulnerable. Now you have to go through the hassle of changing all the shared passwords, hoping that you don’t miss any of your accounts.
So what is the perfect password? Ideally, you should use as many characters as the system accepts, and make it a random string of upper/lower case alphabet characters, numerals and symbols (including spaces!). Maybe a nice 28-character password would look like p(D}ul:C PGk”*1!hj(TI^w4GMgy. But how are you supposed to remember that?! Bite the bullet and use a password manager. These are simple applications that encrypt and store your passwords, allowing you to control your access to them either with another password or with another factor (i.e. biometrics, certificates, etc.). You can even install different password managers as browser extensions and apps on your phone. It’s a no-brainer. Use complex passwords. Store them in a password manager. That’s how your personal digital life should be handled.
Unfortunately, sometimes a password manager isn’t something that you may want to use in work situations. In these cases, you need a good password that’s also easy to remember. How do you do that?? This XKCD comic has a beautiful example of an easy-to-remember password that will protect you from password guessing and brute forcing. Creating a story in your head is an easy way to remember a password that is complicated for a computer to guess. In an interview with Edward Snowden, he also mentioned that this is an effective way to create and remember good passwords when he offered up an idea of his own, MargaretThatcherIs100%SEXY.
There is absolutely no excuse for password reuse when there are tools and methods that can be used to facilitate good, secure password creation and recollection.