Hacking, data breaches, online scams, identity theft, are constantly making headlines. But many of these will target passwords first! And while ESET’s research suggests the Irish use safer passwords than is the global average, it is always good to follow some additional safety tips, to keep yourself and your children safe.
With the amount of online accounts to manage today, securing your online presence with strong passwords can seem like an overwhelming task – even without thinking of another handful of passwords for your children. But however challenging the idea may seem, the effort put into securing your accounts is nothing compared to suffering the consequences of a data breach, leaving your sensitive data or even private communication with your kids exposed.
So what are some simple but effective ways to improve your password habits and set a good example for your children?
- First and foremost, make a habit of creating a unique password for each of your accounts and teach your children to do the same. This is the single most important piece of advice for a good reason – no matter how well you do your part to secure your accounts, your credentials may be leaked from any of your service providers. Using unique passwords will ensure that even if that were to happen, the rest of your accounts remain safe.
You’re probably thinking: but that’s exactly the tricky part! How am I or my children supposed to remember all those different passwords?
Don’t worry – security experts together with standard-setting bodies agree that passwords don’t necessarily need to be complicated in order to be effective at keeping your accounts safe.
- Apart from uniqueness, length is what you should focus on – the longer the password, the safer your account. This basically invites you and your kids to make use of passphrases, which can have the great benefit of being both long and easy to remember.
When setting up a passphrase, use any phrase or sentence you like, or let your child come up with one. Play with fun topics and associations so that the memorizing comes more naturally. You can divide the words in your passphrase by spaces, special characters, or alternatively use capitals at the beginning of each word for emphasis. Don’t be afraid to use punctuation, just like you would in a regular sentence. The only thing to steer clear of when using passphrases are very famous quotes and infinitely repeated sayings that could be easy to guess.
In practice, using the sentence “Chocolate is my favourite food.” could result in the passphrase “chocolateismyfavouritefood”, or “ChocolateIsMyFavouriteFood”, or even “ChocolateIsMyFAVORITEFood!”.
You can find more tips on how to use passphrases in this blogpost.
- If you still prefer using passwords rather than a passphrase, make it a minimum of 8 characters. Avoid dictionary words (common words, names, dates, numbers) and avoid notoriously weak (but still popular) passwords, such as 12345678, password or qwerty. Doing so will set a good example for your children, who will likely find it natural to use unique, creative passwords in the future. You can check out this ESET video for some good pointers on creating a strong password.
- If this is still all too much, a reputable password manager will make your life easier. It lets you and your children store all your passwords in one place – without the need to remember every single one. All that needs to be remembered is one strong master password, which works as a lock on the entire database of the app.
You can also check out ESET’s website dedicated to kids safety Safer Kids Online for more tips, tricks and security solutions!