The fundamentals of password protection – how to stay secure online

28 September 2023 by
Matthew Gregory
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Password security is a cornerstone of cybersecurity. Given the number of online services we use daily and the number of times we must logon and authenticate, it’s no surprise we take shortcuts with our passwords, such as reusing passwords and/or allowing our applications to auto-fill. However, this can be a regrettable mistake. 

When one account is compromised, all linked accounts using the same login details are at risk. This applies to both work and personal accounts. Prioritising password security is crucial for safeguarding your online presence. 

How to enhance password security 

Generating passwords 

To fortify your network's security, it is vital to diversify passwords, especially for platforms housing confidential data. Creating robust passwords can be effortless with a random password generator—a free tool that crafts intricate combinations, following your predefined criteria, such as numbers, symbols, and letter cases. 

Password managers 

Centralising access through a single login simplifies the management of complex, secure passwords. 

Password management is an essential tool that securely stores and encrypts your passwords while simplifying login processes. Tools such as Norton, NordPass, Bitwarden and LastPass include a password generator that creates and stores strong, tailored passwords. 

However, it is important to note that password managers have a potential vulnerability; your master password grants access to all stored passwords. 

2-factor authentication 

To fortify your online security further, explore the added layer of protection offered by 2-factor/multi-factor authentication (2FA/MFA). This safeguard adds an extra layer of protection by requiring a secondary device, often a mobile phone, to verify login attempts with an automated verification code.

Here is why 2FA matters: 

  • Double defence: in the event of a breach, attackers can’t access your account with just your password; they also need the secondary authentication code. 
  • Two-pronged approach: 2FA gets its name from the two distinct authentication methods it uses: 
    • Your registered password 
    • A pre-registered device that receives a confirmation code for submission 
  • Alerts and recovery: most services notify you of failed 2FA attempts, providing the chance to change your password and regain control of your account. 

8 key principles of password security

  1. Avoid password reuse: one that is compromised means all may be at risk. Use unique credentials for sensitive accounts. 
  2. Activate 2 Factor authentication (2FA): enable 2FA, especially for vital services like email, banks, and password managers. 
  3. Enforce password complexity rules: create longer complex passwords with a mix of characters, numbers, and symbols to resist password cracking attempts. 
  4. Use a random password generator: generate unbiased, secure passwords adhering to best practices. 
  5. Avoid common words: steer clear of easily guessable words or patterns, like 'Dogs1'. 
  6. Don't use personal information: protect against educated guesses by avoiding names, dates, or other personal details. 
  7. Regularly change passwords: while the frequency of password changes may vary, regular updates are essential for security. 
  8. Consider a password manager: utilising a trusted password manager is a convenience and secure way to manage passwords, provided you maintain a strong master password. 

Your online safety begins with strong password protection. Don't let shortcuts compromise your digital assets. Our cybersecurity experts will guide you through the process of safeguarding your online presence.

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