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Strong Passwords

Hackers use a variety of techniques to obtain passwords and gain unauthorised entry into IT systems. Weak passwords make you more vulnerable to hacking by cyber criminals.

Implementing a strong password policy, which is enforced across your organisation will help defend your business against cyber crime.

Creating a strong password

A strong password should meet the following criteria:

  • Is at least 8 characters long
  • Is unique from any previously used passwords
  • Doesn’t contain consecutive keyboard combinations – e.g. qwerty or zxcvb

The current recommendation for creating strong passwords is to choose three random words with special characters for example:

rundayriver&4 or 2$catfirecake

Passwords to avoid

Ensure your employees never use any word, which is related to them and may be easy to guess or find on social media profiles, these include:

  • Current partner’s name
  • Child’s name
  • Other close family members’ name
  • Pet’s name
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Favourite holiday
  • Something related to your favourite sports team

How to remember strong passwords

Strong passwords may be extremely secure but can be tricky to remember. Simple memory tricks and techniques can help.

Story method – remember a sequence of key words by creating a story e.g. using the example above: ‘I enjoyed my run that day in the summer by the river’

Loci method – conjure up a familiar scene and place each item that needs to be remembered in a particular location e.g. cat on the sofa, fire on the wall opposite, cake on the coffee table. 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 it.

Ensure you educate your staff not to write their passwords down and never leave them taped to their monitor!

Password management software can be used to enable users to securely record and store their passwords.