If you want to keep your on­line ac­counts safe, it’s time to change the locks for some­thing much more se­cure

Windows 7 Help & Advice - - WINDOWS HELP & ADVICE -

How to cre­ate strong pass­words for use on­line; the hid­den hin­ter­land of the in­ter­net and Acer takes the fight to Mi­crosoft’s Sur­face

We all have to use pass­words ev­ery day, and it’s very tempt­ing to use pass­words which are easy to re­mem­ber. Per­haps they’re based on dic­tio­nary words, maybe with a num­ber re­plac­ing a let­ter or a lit­tle bit of punc­tu­a­tion pep­pered in. But the eas­ier your pass­words are to re­mem­ber, the eas­ier they are to crack.

Ac­tu­ally per­haps this isn’t true. One of the most se­cure ways of set­ting a pass­word is to se­lect more than one dic­tio­nary word. For in­stance, look around you right now and se­lect four ob­jects, then stitch them to­gether into a pass­word: Key­board Cof­fee Wal­let Screen, per­haps. Those four words will be easy to re­mem­ber, par­tic­u­larly if you can set a story around them. And while a sin­gle word can be cracked in a few hours, it may take ages to pass through four.

pass­word man­age­ment

Us­ing the same pass­word on mul­ti­ple sites can be a big risk, be­cause if one of the web­sites you are us­ing it on gets com­pro­mised – and your pass­word gets re­leased into the wild – hack­ers may at­tempt to use that pass­word on other web­sites for which you have ac­counts. In one mo­ment, your en­tire on­line life could be opened up. So it’s im­por­tant to use a unique pass­word for each ac­count when you reg­is­ter it on­line. You could ap­ply the four-word method, of course, although this will quickly be­come a se­ri­ous mem­ory test.

In­stead, pass­word man­agers can help you keep track of your cre­den­tials for each web­site you use or even, if you wish, gen­er­ate se­cure pass­words for those sites that even you don’t know. All you will need is a sin­gle master pass­word. Prob­a­bly the best pass­word man­ager – one we’ve cov­ered be­fore in these pages – is LastPass (www.lastpass.com). It’s very sim­ple to set up and, as long as you don’t re­veal your master pass­word to any­one, you’ll never get locked out.

Us­ing the same pass­word on mul­ti­ple sites can be a big risk

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