With the continued growth of the internet and it becoming ingrained in many aspects of our lives, it’s highly important to make sure that you are protecting accounts from unauthorised access.

Many people now use the internet for their shopping, banking, work and even socialising online.

Research by statista.com shows that almost 4.57 billion people were active internet users as of April 2020, encompassing 59 percent of the global population. With over half of the world online, it’s no surprise that the growth in identity theft, spam and hacking has soared.

Individuals aren’t the only people who are at risk from cyber crime. Sometimes the focus is large and well established companies. Usually if a hacker can access a larger corporate network the prize is much larger. There have been many high profile cases of large companies getting hacked, one of the biggest cases was the Adobe hack, where at least 38 million accounts were breached. The theft included user IDs, along with sensitive password data.

One of the most common passwords that people use are easy to remember. A lot of people do not realize the severity or disruption that can be caused if someone gains access to your personal information.

An interesting analysis of the exposed passwords revealed an alarming discovery; over 2 million users had set theirs to ‘123456’ followed closely by ‘123456789’ then simply ‘password’.

The rise in social networking has also made identity theft easier as criminal now has access to personal information such as your date of birth, full name, address and other information. We often seem unwittingly happy to publish many sensitive personal information online which we wouldn’t dream of giving to a stranger in real life.

A great way to assess your personal information is to ask the question “would I give this over to a stranger?” Using basic personal information a cyber criminal can use password generator tools that guess common password trends. For example – ‘your surname123’ or ’your surname1234’ etc can be entered at a massive scale until one is successful.

Once an unauthorized individual has your information they can use it to access bank accounts, apply for credit cards, buy items online and even apply for a passport!

To help make your online experience safer and securer, we’ve put together a few ideas to consider when choosing a password. This isn’t a definite list, but is a starting point when considering what to use for the future.

Choosing a password advice

Given that passwords are used to protect most of your secure information online it is essential that you choose them carefully:

  • Don’t use a real words, try a combination of letters which would be difficult to guess and are completely unrelated to you or your life.
  • Make it memorable to you only, this ensures that you don’t have to write it down or store as a file on your computer or device.
  • Never use information related to you such as a pet, child, partner or parents name, address in-formation or house number. Many people will use a phone number, but these are often submit-ted online.
  • Use a combination of upper and lower case, include numbers and try adding non- alphanumeric characters such as brackets or commas.
  • Don’t use obvious word or number combinations like birthdays or a house address. Once you’ve decided on a password, don’t recycle it, for example; pass1, pass2, pass3, pass4, etc.
  • Always use separate passwords on your accounts, it means if one is compromised your other accounts are still secure.
  • Sometimes scammers will cold call you pretending to be from a legitimate organisation and ask for your personal detail. Never reveal your information. If you are unsure, call them back on an official number.
  • Make sure you have the most recent retrieval email in place. If you forget your new password, you at least need to be able to get back into the account!

We hope these top tips will help you when considering your new password. As the online world becomes a more joined-up experience, it is important to make sure that if one account is compromised that others aren’t too.

You may not be concerned if your social media account is hacked for example, but then if that same hacker gets enough information to access your bank account it could become a bigger problem that you anticipated.