How strong is your P@$$w0rD?

Cyber Security Awareness monthAny telephone or online system that stores our personal information requires us to use a password. But how much thought do we give to how we devise, manage and secure them?

In this modern world we seem to need a username and password for almost everything! There are so many to remember and, if you’re one of those people who get to the top of the stairs and can’t remember why you are there, how are we supposed to remember all our passwords?

Password lockers are one idea, but these are not necessarily without risk. LastPass, a security firm that allows you to store all your passwords online with a master password, was hacked earlier this year; providing access to email addresses, password reminders and even encrypted master passwords.

So why all the fuss? It comes down to the need to protect our own valuable data – whether personal and of a financial, medical or legal nature, or commercial in the form of the data we both create and consume on a daily basis at work. Either way passwords are there to protect information, that has a particular audience and use, from those who may otherwise use it with malicious intent.

Your password protects your valuable assets. We don’t leave our doors unlocked – four-point mortise locks and house alarms are used to keep our homes secure – so why wouldn’t you protect your information assets? Not using a strong password is much like leaving your front door open.

It’s not uncommon to have 20 or more passwords to remember. Think how many you have. It’s the price we pay for the modern online world and with that comes an element of risk, so it’s important to make sure you make your passwords strong. Failure to do so could leave you or National Grid at risk of cyber-crime and unwanted consequences. So don’t take the risk, password1234 just won’t do and don’t use personal information, such as family names places and dates – passwords are often discovered by social engineering rather than cracking.

Take a look at this video for a light-hearted look at insecure passwords.

Here are a few golden rules:

  • Make your passwords long and complex, with uppercase and lowercase letter, numbers and special characters; particularly your bank and any site that contains bank card details.
  • Make your emails password very strong as this is often used to reset other passwords.
  • Don’t share your passwords with anyone.
  • Make all passwords different.
  • Don’t write your passwords down, but do consider a hint’s list to help you easily recall them.
  • Be careful your password doesn’t relate to anything you share on social media.

Here is one method of creating a strong, easy to remember password suggested by a National Grid employee:

Think of a random sentence that only you know and is one that is easy to remember. Use the initial letter of each word as your password. Put names and dates in your sentence; you can use these for your capitals and numbers. Put a special character perhaps at the beginning or the end.”

Example: Madrid city in Spain gets very hot in summer 35 degrees = MciSgvhis35d$

There are genuine examples of colleagues who have been the victim of cyber-crime and also incidents involving password security. You and our company are real targets for cyber criminals, so don’t make it easy for them!

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