No matter how good your online security systems are, they’re useless if a malicious person gets their hands on your username and password.
That’s why cyber experts at Humberside Police are today offering advice on how to make your password as strong as possible, as part of the force’s ongoing Cyber Security – Has It Clicked? campaign.
Detective Inspector Rich Osgerby said that by having a weak password, people were putting themselves at risk of being targeted by a host of online criminals.
And the same logic applies to the password to access your Wi-fi connection as it does to your bank account.
He said: “A weak password puts you at risk of people impersonating you to commit fraud and other crimes.
“They could access your bank account, use your money to purchase items online, hijack your identity and set up fake social media or online dating accounts or send emails in your name to try and con people.
“They could also gain access to the private information you hold on your computer.
“If you don’t have a strong password set on your router, people can simply log on to your connection. This may only result in them using your connection, making your system run slower, but they can also use up the download allowance you pay for, download inappropriate material, which would be traced to your address, or access information you are sending or receiving online.
“Having a strong password may seem like a simple thing, but it really can help to protect you from online criminals.”
There are no hard and fast rules for setting passwords, but our top tips are:
- The longer you can make your password the better.
- Use a combination of capital and lower case letters, as well as symbols and numbers.
- Try and make them as random as possible, but also memorable. Experts at Get Safe Online suggest using a line of a song people would not associate with you, or by taking a memorable phrase and using the first character from each word – for example: Here we are now, entertain us! to get ‘Hwan,eu!’
- Never use your username, actual name, or the names of your family or pets.
- The same applies to birthdays and your well-known favourites – such as football team or band - that would be easy to guess with a little background knowledge.
- Don’t use the word password or numerical sequences.
- Single commonplace dictionary words can be easily cracked using common hacking programmes.
- Never give your password to anyone else and, if you think someone has found out what it is, change it straight away.
- If you use the same password for all your accounts, a criminal only has to crack one to have access to everything you have.
- If you struggle to remember passwords, write down hints that will mean something to you but nothing to anyone else.
- No reputable firm will ask you to send a password by email. Don’t do it.
To find out more about protecting yourself from online crime, visit the Humberside Police website.
You can also follow @humberbeat #HasItClicked? on Twitter or visit the force Facebook page.