Six top tips for online password safety

Are you staying safe online? Tech guru Mark Child has these tips for keeping your personal data and bank details safe when surfing.

by Mark Child
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

1. Change your password - and really change it

An easy tip which will prevent data and identity loss is to change your password at least every three months. And the change should not be limited to one character, e.g. where M@nchesterUnited1 becomes M@nchesterUnited2.

2. Keep passwords for your key sites separate

As it’s increasingly difficult to remember all of our passwords, we tend to use the same ones for frequently visited sites. But for some sites the risk of data loss is much higher. Your local library online access code should not be the same as your online banking password!

3. Social media

Hackers often consider the information in the public domain when considering hacking individual’s social media profiles. Names of pets, sporting clubs and loved ones often figure in passwords. If you are choosing a password, avoid any personal information.

4. Site verification

Do you know the difference between a safe site and an unsafe one? Ensure that any website you send information to has https protocol (usually symbolised by a padlock icon) in place. If there are any doubts about the veracity of the site, contact the institution directly before submitting personal details. Be very careful about pop-up windows requesting password changes.

5. Password storage

Do you use a password management tool? Ensure passwords are not stored on mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, iPads), as industry experts have reported that these devices can be hacked in under three minutes. If you are intending to store passwords on any device, ensure that the files are encrypted.

6. Insurance

And lastly, if you intend to use a credit card for online transactions, check that the financial institution that issued the card has cyber crime insurance. Or you could find yourself permanently out of pocket.

Mark Child is technology risk partner at Kingston Smith Consulting LLP

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