Every year, the first Thursday of May is acknowledged as World Password Day, which is a day to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining high security standards online. This year the first Thursday is May 3rd. With all of the various social media platforms, mailing lists, and online shopping available, many online users have become accustomed to using the same set of passwords for their accounts. That practice is dangerous, and can lead to even more security issues in the future. For World Password Day we have compiled a list of the top 5 best practices for creating a strong digital password.
This list was compiled by Thom Byrne, who is the Faculty Chair for the Cybersecurity program at Coleman. If you want to learn more about Mr. Byrne and his program, read his Faculty Spotlight Interview.
The Top 5 Ways to Create a Secure Password
1. Secure passwords are NOT short passwords. Be sure to use a sequence that is more complex than a street name, or the name of your pets. We recommend a length of at least 15 characters, if possible.
2. Avoid using the same passwords for multiple accounts. Though it is easier to remember a select few passwords, they will also make you an easier target for cybercriminals. In addition, it’s better not to use whole words or phrases that are easily recognizable.
3. Download a password manager (such as LastPass), which will help you keep track of your information, while also generating complex passwords for you to use.
4. Use a site authenticator (Microsoft Authenticator, Google, YubiKey, Authy, etc.) that can be used on sites that support Two Factor Authentication (2FA), which will generate a time based six digit 30 second code to provide 2FA.
5. If you don’t want to use a password manager you can use the following techniques instead:
- Make it long, but memorable. You can use a series of punctuation marks instead of random numbers or letters. For example, use “Dog………….37” which will only require you to remember the number of periods instead of a complex sequence.
- Create a visual que that you can use to remember the password sequence. This technique takes at least four unrelated words and a separator character of your choosing to create a secure sequence. For example, the password “Mars;Frog;Valley;42” is 19 characters long. So you can visualize a frog on Mars in a valley with 42 on its side, or any other visual using that specific signifier. The separating character in this example is a semi-colon, but you can choose any that you prefer.
It is important to be as proactive as possible online when it comes to protecting your information. For World Password Day take a moment to think about all of the passwords that you are currently using, or need to remember, and determine if they meet the necessary requirements for proper security. If not, use these tips to help you create a more secure password and use them to create better passwords in the future. If you would like to know more about staying safe online, you can read our blog about email phishing here.