Secure your business using Pass-Phrases (not Passwords)

Twitter has recently suggested all their users should update their passwords, not only for their platform but across any online platform you use. Whilst updating your password regularly for all your online identities is good advice, it may seem weird for Twitter to suggest updating passwords for all your online identities, so why have they done this?

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Firstly, Twitter suffered from a bug in their software that briefly showed passwords in plain text, rather than the usual encrypted form. This only affected the back-end of Twitter and was picked up very quickly, so it is likely that no harm will be done, however, Twitter has done the right thing and informed their users of the mistake even though it is likely they could have swept it under the rug and forgotten about it. It makes sense that Twitter would then suggest you update your Twitter password but why for all your identities?

Unfortunately, people tend to use the same password across all their online identities as this makes them easier to remember and quicker to type in, however, it also makes it easier for hackers to gain access to your accounts. If your Twitter password did end up in the wrong hands, hackers could try that password across all your identities and likely gain access to them. Twitter are smart enough to realise this, hence the suggestion to change all your passwords. If there was a real threat to your online security, Twitter would likely force you to change your password, however it is better to be safe than sorry. You would probably be fine if you left your car unlocked today though do you want to take that chance?

So how can you protect your passwords?

People tend to use generic words as their passwords, such as their maiden name, favourite sports team or pets name. It is also common to substitute letters with numbers that look similar, such as “3” instead of “E” or “8” replacing “B”. Both methods make it easy to guess passwords and if you currently use these, please update your passwords.

One way to create more complex passwords is to use a “Pass-Phrase”. See the table below that illustrates how a pass-phrase can create a more secure and complex password.

Complex Password

Pass-Phrase

Egtc2tw8!

Every good thing comes to those who wait

8msMb&e^

bring me some more Bacon and Eggs

C1wIth2sPlS:)

Cafe latte with 2 sugars please:)

!t00kth3d0g4a_Walk

I took the dog for a walk

 

These Pass-Phrases are more secure than normal passwords and are still easier to remember than a long chain of random letters, numbers and symbols. It is suggested to have a different password for all your online identities, it can still be impossible to remember all these Pass-Phrases. This is where using a password manager can help.

Password Manager

password manager is a program you typically install on your smart phone and/or computer, and can be used to securely store your credentials as well as generate new and unique complex passwords for these sites. They mark the end of having the same (easy/boring/crack-able) password for each of your online identities and, provided you use it properly, will keep your identity much safer. It may sound as if having your passwords all in one place is not very secure, however, most password managers encrypt data, making it very difficult for anyone who isn’t yourself to get their hands on it. A (not very comprehensive) list of password managers can be found below:

All of these come with varying levels of security and different features, so do your research before committing to one.

Using secure passwords is just one way to be secure on the internet. To find out how well prepared your business is for a data breach, download our Data Breach Response Plan Checklist.

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