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Securing your Passwords

Published

2018

Mon

20

Aug

 

 

 

 

Keenan Singh, Software Developer
Natmed Medical Defence (Pty) Ltd

 

 

 

Many people have trouble remembering passwords, and as a result they use easy passwords or reuse the same passwords across multiple websites.

The reuse of passwords is a major security problem because should one of the websites where the password is used be hacked, the attackers will try and re-use your username/email and password combination to attempt to login as you on different websites such as your social media or banking accounts for example. If you reuse passwords STOP immediately and use different passwords for every website. Passwords should also contain special characters and numbers, be longer than 8 characters and should not be words found in a dictionary because attackers generally try common passwords and have curated password dictionaries of possible combinations to try. A password such as “1234” or “water” is easier to crack than “su%IKk78rtb#F&W3q#h^jZ4”.

The solution to remembering all your different passwords is to use a password manager. Password managers store your login information for all the websites you use and help you log into them without the need to remember individual passwords. They encrypt your password database with a master password, this will be the only password you will have to remember, allowing you to be more productive, without the worry of forgotten passwords, and most importantly be more secure. Just have one strong password to rule them all.

A simple web search will produce the different password managers available. Some are free, some are paid, and each has their own benefits and extra features. A few examples to look at are LastPass, KeePass and Dashlane. A couple of points to consider when choosing a password manager include how you would like to handle your passwords and the availability of the password manager on different devices. Paid options generally have the ability to sync your password database across all devices or to have the passwords accessible from the cloud. Free options usually require you to maintain the password across different devices manually. If you are looking at free options and have an online storage account like OneDrive, Dropbox or Google Drive, then you can save your password database on one of those accounts and all your passwords will be available on different devices.

Once you have a password database you can use it to save new passwords (some will be able to generate random passwords that are hard to crack). Now when logging into a website you just access your password database and copy and paste the correct password into the website. Some password managers will even auto type it into the password field on the website for you.

Start securing your online presence and stay safe.

Extra tip, you can visit https://haveibeenpwned.com/ and check if you have an account that has been compromised in a data breach. If so, immediately change the password you use to login to that website as well as any other websites that uses that same password (If you have unique passwords for everything you won’t have to worry about this). It also helps if you enable two-factor authentication (where you get an OTP or have to solve a puzzle for example, before you log in) on websites that have that functionality. When visiting a website where you have to fill in any details make sure the website has SSL encryption (the URL will start with https:// notice the “s” after http, and there will be a closed lock in the browser address bar), else you could be vulnerable to man in middle attacks and network snooping.  

 
Source: Natmed Medical Defence (Pty) Ltd
 
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