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Blog: article

Keeping your website and email accounts secure

03 2014

by Nigel Harding

We live in an age where password breaking is becoming a daily fact of life and companies can lose password data on a mass scale. If your website or email accounts are broken into then this can cost you time and money. Your email passwords and website access passwords should be as difficult to crack as possible. Here are some hints to help you survive:

Don’t use password phrases that can be found in the dictionary.

These can be guessed in 10 seconds or less (source: I went to a briefing by a security consultant who works for GCHQ). Also do avoid children’s names, dates of birth, maiden names and other guessable data. I recently guessed 2 of my friends Wi-Fi passwords by using their oldest children’s firstnames followed by the digit “1”. And I’m not even a hacker!

Create a strong password

Aim to use a strong complex password, in other words use a minimum of 8 characters with a combination of upper/lower case, numbers and punctuation symbols. This in itself will greatly improve your chances of staying safe.

Don’t use a single password for all accounts!

In other words don’t use the same password for FaceBook, Twitter, your bank account and your email account. The danger here is that if a social media company loses thousands of passwords then that’s not too bad in itself but if that also happens to be your bank password then someone may easily get into your bank account.

Change your passwords from time to time

Some may advocate that you do this every week or every month. I think you should consider changing your important passwords at least annually.

How to keep track of your passwords

A simple password protected spreadsheet stored on your local drive would be a great way of managing passwords. You could also have a dedicated notebook that is always stored securely. However don’t forget your spreadsheet password and don’t lose that notebook!

Website backups

You should definitely understand how to take backups of your website data (or budget some funds so that your webmaster or website developer can do that for you). If your code is changed then you may need to roll back to the previous “good” installation.

Email backups

Similarly, depending on whether you use a cloud-based/webmail system an email application, there will be a way of taking backups and you should do this regularly.