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Down time over the holidays? Here's how you can adopt a cyber safe password

December 27, 2019

The presents have been distributed. The holiday parties have been attended. Your kitchen is finally looking somewhat normal after a string of holiday meals.

It's time to slow down, relax and grab some down time as you prepare for the New Year.

But as you stretch out on the couch and curl up with that book you've been saving or show you've wanted to watch, you might also want to take a second to think about cyber security.

Down time over the holidays is the perfect time to ensure you're following best practices for one of the most important features of cyber security: Adopting a strong password.

"a small child sits on a beanbag chair with a laptop, with passwords, cursors and Wi-Fi symbols in the background"Why a strong password is so important

Passwords. We all have them. From logging in to our email to using our favourite social media account, passwords protect our information from cyber criminals.

But you can't just use any password and expect to stay cyber secure. Adopting a strong password is the best way to protect your personal data, banking information and other material you'd prefer to remain private.

Otherwise, you risk leaving yourself exposed to cyber crime. Criminals have many methods for exploiting a weak password, including guessing your password by keying in things like your name, address or pet's name manually.

From there, they'll move on to more sophisticated methods such as monitoring your computer with malicious software or tricking you into giving up your password through techniques such as phishing and smishing.

The best way to foil them? Protect yourself! Take some time this holidays to adopt a strong password from all your accounts.

How to adopt a strong password

Decided to change your passwords but aren't sure what makes a strong password? Follow Get Cyber Safe's strong password guide.

  • Make sure it's a minimum length of eight characters.
  • Use a combination of upper and lower case letters and at least one number.
  • Include at least one character that isn't a letter or number.
  • Be creative. Use the first letter of each word of a memorable sentence or phrase, then make it even tougher by changing some of the letters to numbers (e.g. use a "3" to replace an "e").
  • Try a mix of your pet's name, your favourite numbers, the street you grew up on or other combinations.

Taking password security a step further

A strong password is your best defense against cyber criminals. But it's not the only step you should be taking.

Here are the other measures you can take to back up your strong password with other security features.

  • Enable two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication is what protects your accounts from allowing cyber criminals to exploit the "forgot password" feature to hack into your accounts.
  • Use password or pin protection on your devices: Protecting your phone should it be lost or stolen is one of the best ways to secure your information from cyber criminals. Use the password or pin feature to lock your phone so that only you are able to access it.  
  • Be aware of cyber scams: A strong password is the best defense against cyber criminals. But it's not the only one. Cyber criminals can also use tactics such as phishing and smishing to send you emails or text messages that appear to be legitimate. In fact, though, they are scams aimed at tricking you into giving up your personal information. Educate yourself on cyber scams and fraud to ensure you don't become a victim.

Conclusion

Becoming cyber safe doesn't require a lot of effort – just a little know-how and diligence to make yourself cyber secure.

Take some time while relaxing during the holiday to ensure you and your family are set up for a cyber safe new year.

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