When was the last time you updated your password? If the answer is more than a year ago, you may be surprised to know that’s a little too long. In the past, it was only recommended that you change the passwords to your email, work accounts and online banking every 60 to 90 days. However, the Better Business Bureau and many IT professionals now recommend you change your passwords at least monthly. Yes – at least every 30 days.
With more and more people working from home and telecommuting for business, updating your password couldn’t be more important for cybersecurity these days. One of the easiest ways for a hacker to get access to your personal, business or financial information is by stealing your login details through a cyberattack. You can be on the defense and mitigate this risk by frequent password changes. There are lots of ideas and tools out there to take advantage of. Here are just a few you may want to use:
Use the sentence method or create a passphrase
Strong passwords need to contain a few elements. This includes a mix of numbers, symbols, capital letters and lower-case letters. Depending on the password you may also need to choose a password that’s about 12 to 14 characters in length. To remember something that complex, you will have to use a method that works for you and your memory. Songs or quotes could serve as inspiration.
Think of a random song or a quote that you like. You can take that sentence and transform it into a password. Here’s how:
- Sentence method
Use a song title or lyric like "She Works Hard for the Money". Take the song lyric and isolate the first few letters of each word. (i.e. - swhftm). Most passwords require a special character, a capital letter and a number, so select a few to add. Perhaps the first and the last word get the caps (i.e. - SwhftM). A dollar sign might be a good add for the symbol (i.e. - SwhftM$). Then, for the numbers, perhaps you could use the date the song was a hit. In the case of Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money”, it’s 1983. There you have it – “SwhftM$1983” - it’s unique and hard to crack. You likely also have more than one favourite song, so choose a new song every month. You can also apply the technique to produce this password using a favourite childhood book, an inspirational quote, or something else.
A passphrase is a sequence of words and generally longer for added security. It contains spaces in between the words too. The larger character count makes it more difficult to crack. You can use a quote to create one. Here is an example of one about money by Aristotle, “Money is a guarantee that we may have what we want in the future.” And, another by Warren Buffett, “The stock market is designed to transfer money from the active to the patient.” You will need to be sure that this quote is random, and that you have not posted it to your social media or have it hanging as a poster on your office wall. It should be something that can’t be guessed or found.
Increase your security awareness
Even if you think you have a good handle on your passwords and cyber hygiene, consider asking your IT team questions about creating stronger passwords or setting you up for training. When it comes to protecting your personal, business and banking information – it’s worth it!
Cyberattacks happen through weaknesses in your system. Seeking information and tools to ensure you're properly protecting yourself and your business is always a good practice.
Additional security tips
- Change your password frequently
- Use different passwords for your accounts
- Avoid shared logins and passwords
- Never email or text anyone your password
- Choose hard-to-guess security questions when creating an account
- Clear your social media of anything that is related your passwords
- Update your antivirus and keep software up to date
- Lock up devices left unattended
More tools and resources
At Valley First, we like to ensure that you have the tools and resources to be cybersecure to protect your personal and business banking information. Here are some other links to articles and videos we’ve produced to help you:
- Cybersecurity Tips for Working from Home
- Top 3 Rules to Keep Your Business Cyber Safe
- Phishing and Smishing: A Helpful Resource to Avoid Getting Phished
- The Four Cornerstones of Internet Security