Whenever we want to check our emails, make an online purchase, view our internet banking, connect via social networks and even play some online games we cannot do so without entering a password.
When creating a password for any online service there is a natural temptation to use a simple word or phrase which may even be used on multiple sites.
Why do we do this? Simply because we want a password which is easy to remember.
This section looks at some of the risks involved with using an insecure password or using the same password for multiple sites, some tips on creating an easy to remember yet secure password and will explain how to change your @manx.net email password.
What is a weak password?
Simply, a password could be considered weak for any number of reasons; the word can be found in a dictionary; it uses a sequence of letters or numbers on a keyboard - "qwerty" or "12345678"; if it's the name of a relative, pet, sports team, band, city, date of birth, marriage or graduation, your car registration number and many other common words such as "letmein", "password", "love", "money", "love", "god".
All of these types of passwords are the first things a hacker will try to gain access to your account. Hackers don't even need to sit at a computer and try these one at a time, they write programs which automatically try these common passwords first.
Using different passwords
It can be tempting to use the same password for a number of sites, your email and facebook for example, but this is a serious security risk to your data because a hacker could access your Facebook account and send spam out, see what other services you have liked and attempt to access those.
What if you also used the same password for your Amazon or PayPal account which can store your bank details?
Problems caused by weak or repeated passwords
Along with the most important and obvious risks with using weak passwords, or the same password for multiple sevices or applications, which is to your personal data, online banking and PayPal security, online purchase security there are also other risks, closer to home.
If your Wi-Fi security password is weak or even not enabled, it could grant unauthorised access to not only your broadband connection, particularly important if you subscribe to a capped broadband service with limited amounts of data per month, but you could also inadvertantly grant access to data stored on your network which has never been uploaded to the internet.
Another risk can have a wider effect on other email users; if a spammer gains access to your email address they can send out spam and viruses from your email address. This can have a knock-on effect as external, spam monitoring, networks may blacklist the email domain which, if an @manx.net address, can affect many other email users and prevent their emails from being delivered even though our network does have spam mitigation in place.
Tips for creating a strong password
Longer passwords offer greater security - a minimum of 8 characters is recommended. You don't need to know or remember one 15 character word, simply add a few words or phrases together but make sure they are not related, don't use "isleofman" or "liverpoolfootballclub".
Create a "random" code - you could also use the first couple of letters from words or names which would make a seemingly random password.
Example: If the names of your family are Sam, Daniel, Claire and Jane you could create a password sadaclja
Add numbers to your password - with your password sadaclja why not add their years of birth to the end of the password
Add punctuations and symbols - many services allow punctuation and symbols to be used, so why not use them?!
Use both UPPERCASE and lowercase letters - many services require at least one uppercase and one lowercase character in the password
Use these rules for other passwords - you can use the same theory for creating additional passwords so you build up a bank of secure passwords:
Replace letters with symbols - simply replacing letters with symbols can greatly enhance password security. You do not have to choose the obvious ones such as replacing t with 7, replace o with 0 or e with 3. Choose ones which make sense to you:
Type words backwards - if you want to use "NewYorkCity" for your password type it backwards, don't forget to use punctuation:
Use acronyms - One of the easiest ways to create a memorable and secure password is to use an acronym from a phrase which means something to you:
Example: The phrase "And it's good night from me. And it's good night from him" becomes the password aignfmaignfh. If you apply the rules we have already shown you can easily create "A1gnfMA1gnf#"
Example - The lyric "We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine" becomes the password waliaysaysays and applying our earlier rules this could become *Wal1ay5ay5ay5*
Even without using a very complicated methods like some of the above examples you can see how easy it is to create a secure password which is easy for you to remember but very difficult for anyone to crack.
- A longer password is a stronger password - minimum of 8 characters, use phrases to easily remember long passwords
- Change your password regularly - if you change your password regularly it is less likely to be cracked. We recommend changing your password every 90 days.
- Different passwords for every login - if you use the same password on multiple sites you are risking access to all of those sites. PROTECT YOUR INFORMATION!
- Create a password "code" - use initials or the first couple of letters of a phrase
- Add numbers - use numb3r5 anywhere in your p455w0rd.
- Add punctuation and symbols - your keyboard is full of symbols and punctuation, why_n*t-u$e_th3m?
- Capital Letters add security - a simple trick, capitalise EvErY oThEr LeTtEr
- Type words backwards - significantly increase security - ytiruces esaercni yltnacifingis
- Use acronyms - "And it's good night from me. And it's good night from him" = aignfmaignfh