Improve your Password Security This Festive Season

By: Katrina LA

Statistics clearly show that criminal activity increases during the holiday season and it is therefore imperative for business owners to take the right precautions and not let their guard down.

Unauthorised attacks and abuse of your business or personal information can potentially cost your business thousands of dollars each year. However, following our simple guidelines on improving your passwords can help protect your business.

Lack of password security is a major source of abuse on the Internet. Most abuse happens when someone you know guesses your password or by people running program lists of potential passwords (for example the English dictionary) against your password to find a match.

What Not To Use as Your Password
Passwords that should not be used are those able to be easily determined or generated:
&bullDo not use the word 'password' or any variations (password1, PASSWORD)
&bullYour given name or variations of your given name (walter, WALTER, retlaw, Walter, wAlter, walter0, walt3r, Retlaw4).
&bullYour car license plate, room/phone number, date of birth, pet names or anything that other people would be able to easily associate with you.
&bullPatterns like 123456, qwerty, ABC123.
&bullDefault passwords - always change it to one you have selected yourself.
&bullAll standard dictionary words and derivatives (including foreign dictionaries).

Recommendations for Picking Good Passwords:
A good password consists of at least 8 characters.
All passwords should satisfy three of the four character categories:
&bullat least one character is a lowercase letter
&bullat least one character is an uppercase letter
&bullat least one character is a number
&bullat least one character is a non-alphanumeric character in the password ( ! @ # % = & * ).
Your new password has to be hard to guess but easy to remember, otherwise you will be tempted to write it down which removes its function completely.

A few useful methods for compiling a new password:
&bullAdd two words that together which combined consist of eight characters but have no connection to each other. Put a punctuation mark in the middle and convert some characters to uppercase. Examples: 'Dogs+trEe', 'coLouR#me'.
&bullUse the first characters of the words of a certain (not too common) sentence. When we use the sentence 'My goldfish are called Justerini and Brooks!' as example, we would get the password 'MgacJaB!'.

Change Your Passwords Regularly.
This can help keep criminals and other malicious users unaware. A password that is shorter than 8 characters should be considered only good for a week or so, while a password that is 14 characters or longer (and follows the other rules outlined above) can be good for years.

The festive season should be a time of relaxation and giving. By being vigilant and taking simple steps the risks of falling victim can be substantially reduced the risk of an unauthorised attack on your business or personal information.

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