Password. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Cape Town – Complex passwords are key to your digital security, yet few people take them seriously.
The most popular password of "123456" has remained unchanged since 2011 according to Splashdata, giving cyber criminals an easy point of attack for smartphones and online accounts.
The ease with which criminals can access easy-to-guess passwords may leave many internet users vulnerable to identity theft and even victims of financial fraud.
“In a world heavily reliant on technology for daily operations, especially regarding banking, shopping and confidential communication, it has become more lucrative and easier to steal online than on the street,” said Candice Sutherland, business development consultant at SHA Specialist Underwriters.
According to security firm Kaspersky Lab, cyber crooks are making increasing use of malicious Trojans. The malware is able to gain “super user” access on mobile devices and resists attempts to delete it.
Sutherland advises that you should be economical with personal information on social media sites.
“Individuals’ personal details are freely available on numerous websites, especially on social networking profiles, which makes it very easy for criminals to guess passwords and answer security questions if the person does not have a strong password in place.”
Sutherland advised that you have long and strong passwords for online accounts to frustrate cyber attacks.
READ: SA jumps up cyber attack target list
Here are her top eight password tips:
• Do not enable the “remember me” function available on websites to remember passwords. If someone else gets access to your computer just think about all the social networks and shopping sites they can enter.
• Do not share passwords with anyone.
• Never use personal information such as your name, birthday, or spouse's name in a password as personal information is often publicly available.
• Create a long password. A password should be at least six characters long, but should ideally consist of 12 characters if the site allows it.
• Do not use the same password for each account. If someone discovers a person’s password for one account, they will be able to access all the other accounts.
• Attempt to create a password that is a combination of numbers, symbols and both uppercase and lowercase letters if the website allows it.
• Avoid using words that can be found in the dictionary. For example, swimming1 would be a weak password. Random passwords are usually considered to be the strongest.
• One can use a tool such as password generator to create strong passwords.
READ: How to check your password strength
- Follow Duncan on Twitter