Your online security lies in your password. The stronger the password, the better. Here is how you create one
One of the popularly circulated password jokes on the social networking platforms is: “Sorry! Your password must contain an uppercase letter, your left foot, a heiku, a gang sign, a hieroglyph and the blood of a virgin.” Of course, generating a strong password to overcome hacking threats for the websites you want to be registered with is as big an irritant as the joke suggests. To top it all, there is no certainty that it will withstand cyber attacks.
Why a tough password is key. We live in a world where we use a number of personal gadgets, social media and email accounts. It is, literally, a virtual world where all our personal information nests comfortably behind password barriers. If these passwords were to be compromised, you would be in dire danger of a series of threats such as losing your bank account to being jailed for treason. So, how can you keep your passwords strong enough to be able to withstand hacking or the dangers of it?
Adding strength to your password. Vinayak Godse, director-data protection, Data Security Council of India, says: “What determines the strength of your password is the number of characters used, special characters such as space, hash tag and so on, along with the unpredictability of the characters used and its overall complexity.” The best way to achieve this is by using both upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters in your password. However, some of the websites do not allow the use of special characters in passwords. In such cases, you must make sure that you know the rules before you set out to create a password.
You must also avoid using personal information such as your name, your wife’s or children’s names, birthdates, anniversaries and so on as part of your password. Says Rakshit Tandon, cyber security expert and advisor to the Cyber Crime Unit, UP Police, Agra: “Most of your intimate, personal information is available freely in the public domain, thanks to the social media. This makes a hacker’s job easy to guess your passwords from the information available.” Hackers can build your profile with the available information and go about guessing your passwords and invariably break into your account.
“Using long full sentences as passwords is a good way to keep the hackers at bay, especially some sentence in your mother tongue which is then written in English letters,” points out Godse. He also suggests going for a 12-character password as they create a thicker fence than the regular eight-character passwords.
Safety measures. Creating multiple passwords and then remembering them is taxing. However, the risk is higher if you use the same password for multiple accounts. If a certain account of yours gets hacked, chances of the hackers trying to break into your other accounts with the same password are high. Cyber security experts advice changing of passwords twice every month, to be on the safer side. There are also apps and websites dedicated to providing password strength checks. Says Tandon: “It may not be wise to involve a third party into choosing your password. It is as good as leaving the security password out in the open.” If you are a regular user of multiple passwords, you can also opt for password lockers that come with a self-destruction command if a password is entered wrongly a couple of times. You could also store passwords in the form of encrypted files to prevent deciphering.