Digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers have certainly made life a lot simpler for the general population, but they come with their own set of downsides including cyber-attacks and privacy issues. It’s never been more essential to learn how to protect your data against these threats. Since the year 1988, November 30th has been celebrated as National Computer Security Day, a day in which awareness is spread around information security and possible ways to protect your data from potential threats. We all know that the first step to protecting your data is having a strong and long password that is not easy to guess.  

The best passwords include a mixture of numbers, letters, and symbols, no words that can be found in the dictionary, and no words containing information that can be tied to you. For example: “$M1t#1986” would not be a secure password, even though it uses a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols. “Smith”, being the example users’ surname, can be easily tied to the user, as well as the year 1986, their birth year. Aside from the password being easily guessed, it’s just a little bit too short. You want your passwords to be around 12 or more characters, the longer the better. Remember, you’re not only attempting to protect your data from other users, you’re also trying to prevent the guessing of your password through sophisticated software that hackers may use.

You want to be able to remember your passwords, so it may be useful to use short phrases, book titles, movie titles or nursery rhymes to form part of your password. Some examples could include:

2BorNot2B_ThatIsThe?  (To be or not to be, that is the question – Shakespeare)

1IsD0urDkstM0msTWMF0cus2CTL  (It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light -Aristotle)

TL10N_Tw1Tc#&TW@rDr0BE  (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe)

Remember that you can also use your keyboard to include simple emoticons, such as:

: ) : D <3 :/ :0

Another important aspect to having a good password is knowing where to store those strong passwords. Avoid writing passwords down on paper as someone may find it and gain access to all your accounts. It is highly recommended that you make use of a password manager. By using a password manager, you’ll only have to remember one “master password” and the password manager does the rest. Most password managers will suggest long, strong, and unguessable passwords to eliminate the practice of coming up with and remembering long passwords. For maximum security, ensure that you enable 2FA, or two factor authentication.

A few recommended password managers are: LastPass, BitWarden, and MYKI. Ensure that your accounts and their respective data remains safe this National Computer Security Day, and don’t forget to spread the awareness near and far.