Passwords are an incredibly important aspect of good cyber security. Having strong and effective passwords is crucial to protect yourself from cyber threats, therefore a password should be easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. Further, passwords should be different for each account or programme.
One recommended method of generating a good password, as suggested by the UK National Cyber Security Centre, is the use of three random words, using capital letters, numbers and symbols. For example: three chosen words may be pencil, doorbell, cat. This can then become a strong password, such as: P3nc!lD00rb3llC@t. The result is unique, and would be difficult for another to guess.
While generating effective passwords is essential, it can certainly be difficult to remember numerous, long passwords. It is unrealistic for anyone to remember lots of passwords and which passwords are used for what. However, this does not diminish the importance of good, unique passwords. For some, this will be the right solution. An individual is much more likely to become a victim of cyber attacks by reusing weak passwords than to have their house broken into and their list of passwords found and stolen. If writing passwords down will help to keep track of strong passwords then this is a perfectly useful and reasonable technique to use at home (if you trust everyone you live with).
An alternative way of keeping track of passwords is to use a password manager. A password manager works like a safe, storing all of your passwords. All that will need to be remembered is one password to open this ‘safe’. From here, the password manager will also help you to create unique and strong passwords and change passwords easily should you need to if a password is compromised. Devices can be synced to allow the use of passwords across devices, and you will not need to learn to remember the passwords themselves. While it may at first seem concerning to store passwords all in one place, it must be recognised that cyber security will never be perfect. The effectiveness of keeping strong passwords outweighs the risk of password managers posing a cyber threat. Companies that offer password managers spend a lot of time and money making sure their products are as safe as possible (it’s their bread and butter, after all) and it is reassuring to know that password managers get a lot of scrutiny from the security community to test them for weaknesses! Three commonly recommended password managers are 1Password, Dashlane and KeePass. Most password managers are usually free for personal use (and only incur a cost when they are for business use).
Using strong passwords is a priority as they are often the key to our online identities and the safeguard for so much of our information. It is important to not let the fear of forgetting them get in the way of this good practice. Using the method of storing passwords which will work best for you, whether writing them down or using a password manager, will allow anyone to keep effective passwords across all platforms.