A Password of Warning: Your Online Security Matters

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Online security is something that affects us all. Whether we’re banking online or want to secure documents in the cloud; online security is becoming as important and as ubiquitous as locking your car or securing your house. In just a few years, the average citizen of the 21st century’s increasingly connected society has come to rely on cloud storage, smart phone banking and online purchasing as an almost default method of day-to-day work and finance. Unfortunately, so have the criminally minded.

You might thing that having everything in a digital format and reducing the need for physical keys and mechanisms to access your data would make everything more secure by its very nature. This is simply not the case, and some who would want to infiltrate your finances, purchase goods and steal your information could think of nothing more convenient than having all that information and access not only in the palm of your hand but also in the confines of a potentially unsecured cloud of online information.

2017 is already being vaunted as the most important year yet for online security. Our increasing reliance on online information and utilities and the seemingly endless reports of compromised finances and leaked sensitive information are signs that it’s not a moment too soon. So, what are the organisations and institutions that encourage us to use more and more online services doing to make all this information as secure as possible and what are the latest methods and advice to help us keep it that way?

For the most end-users, passwords continue to be high on the agenda. There is no getting away from them, no matter how archaic or cumbersome they increasingly seem to be. Without cost effective, highly sophisticated biometric measures of identification, passwords are currently the most reliable and user friendly personalised key to our online domains and they unlikely to become obsolete anytime soon. Until a time when our retinas, fingerprints and even DNA are effective and viable tools for online access, passwords are the frontline of defence for any online account. There are some steps you can take to make them as secure as possible?

As a rule, passwords should be as random as you can manage without making them completely unmemorable. You should never use the same password for more than one online account; be it email, banking, cloud documents, or even your computer log-in. A good way to ensure diversity is to use extra digits or letters in addition to your preferred password that correspond in some way to you with regards to that particular account. For instance, if your password is ‘password’, which under no circumstances should it ever be, then why not use your preferred password plus something you associate with the type of account you’re securing. Be creative and remember, as long as it makes sense to you and you can remember it, that’s what matters. The more gibberish it would appear to be to others, the more secure it is likely to be.

Most importantly, keep your passwords safe and try never to write them down or share them, verbally or online. Advancements in biometrics are happening on an almost daily basis and some banks are even embracing voice recognition security for 2017, so there may be a time when passwords are no longer necessary for our most sensitive accounts or data. Until then, however, it looks like these fiddly and frustrating alphanumerical riddles really are the best way to keep our online life secure.

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