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Top tips for remembering and creating passwords

Three quarters of us don't create strong enough passwords for online accounts.

The figures were released to mark the launch of the latest phase of the Government's Cyber Streetwise campaign to raise awareness of safety online.

We chat to memory expert and magician Alex McAleer.

The most important password you have online is your email account. If this password is compromised, cyber criminals can reset other account passwords, often leading to financial and banking details being stolen.

Start by changing your email password and then alter the rest, as it is vital that you use a different password for each account.

Avoid these common passwords

Most hackers will attempt to crack your password starting with variations of the below. There may even be clues on your social media pages. You should change your password immediately if you’re using any of the following or something similar:

  • Pet’s name

  • Dates of birth

  • Other family members’ name

  • Favourite holiday

  • Current partner’s name

  • Significant dates

  • Child’s name

  • Place of birth

  • Something related to your favourite sports team

  • Number sequences

How to remember your complex passwords

  • Loci method: imagine a familiar scene and place each item that needs to be remembered in a particular location i.e. red rose on the table, book on chair, poster on wall. Imagine yourself looking around the room in a specific sequence. Re-imagine the scene and the location of each item when you need to remember

  • Acronyms: use a phrase from a song you like or a sentence from a poem or book and take the first letter from that sentence

  • Story methods: remember a sequence of key words by creating a story and including memorable details e.g. ‘the little girl wore a bright yellow hat as she walked down the narrow street…’

Store your password securely

Using the techniques outlined above should help you create strong passwords and remember them. However, if you frequently forget them, consider using a piece of software to securely store them. Remember that if you use password storage software it is crucial to use an extremely strong password, as if it is compromised all of your personal information could be lost.

The latest guidelines from experts to create a strong password are:

  • Use three words or more

  • Include a symbol

  • Use upper and lower case letters

  • Include numbers

  • For example look around and pick three random things that you can see like ‘plant’, ‘chair’ and ‘ink’. Put these three words together and swap some of the letters for numbers and symbols like this: pl@ntCha!r1nk

Remember: The longer your password is, the harder it is to crack.

For more information: cyberstreetwise.com

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