We each have around 22 online accounts, so perhaps it's not surprising that three-quarters of us have difficulty remembering passwords so use the same word for more than one account. However PayYourWay says we're leaving ourselves vulnerable to fraudsters with easy-to-guess passwords with almost a quarter of people saying they use a pet's name while 29 per cent admit to never changing their passwords.
Someone who has no problem remembering his passwords is eight-time World Memory Champion Dominic O'Brien who can remember anything from a random sequence of 54 packs of playing cards to a 2,400 digit number. But Dominic says you don't need to be a memory expert to stay safe when it comes to passwords.
"There are lots of simple techniques you can use – try using your imagination to create a coded story. Take the Password 8:30121hP99. Imagine it's 8:30 in the morning and you’re having a one-2-one meeting with little harry Potter who's holding 99 red balloons.
"If people were to create a password made up of just 11 characters (the same number of digits as a phone number), using upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols, it would take 7,000 years to crack!". Here are Dominic's tips for creating secure passwords:
7 tips for secure passwords
1. Be unique
For really important accounts like online banking or email, make sure that you never use the same password, or even a variation of that original password more than once. That way, if the password is compromised, the damage is restricted.
2. Change it
If you’ve been using the same passwords for years, it’s definitely time to update them.
You could use a password manager to manage all your passwords. This is a piece of software that creates random, hard-to-guess passwords for each site you visit – meaning you only need to remember one single, master password to access them all. Use the tips below to make your master password difficult to guess but easy to remember.
4. Be discreet
Don’t tell anyone else your password(s). And if you need to write it down, disguise it. Also, think about any personal details that you use as responses to security questions. Social networking means more of our lives than ever are public knowledge - it’s always worth asking yourself ‘could anyone else know this answer?’
5. Be suspicious
Update you anti-virus software regularly and don’t respond to unsolicited emails, text messages or calls that ask you for your security details – it could be a criminal trying to get hold of your passwords.
6. Mix it up
Use a mixture of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols. This vastly increases the difficulty of guessing or cracking your password.
7. Be creative
Avoid names, birthdays or common words. A good way to create a long, easy to remember password is to string together the first letters of a song lyric, phrase, or even better, a sentence known only to you. For example, 'The Grand Old Duke of York, he had ten thousand men' could give a password of 'TGODoYhh10000m'.
- For more money-saving tips, pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine.