November 06, 2015 at 11:30 AM
The importance of changing your password regularly:
You’ll often hear us reminding you that your password needs to be updated every few months and to avoid using the same password for multiple systems where possible. While this may seem rather excessive, it is actually common practice across many large businesses and organisations that wish to protect their information and their clients.
Generally, the longer you use a password for increases the chance of it being discovered or compromised. It could be as simple as accidentally typing in your password in the username field with a colleague standing behind you, someone observing your typing patterns on a keyboard or simple guesswork. There is also a common time-consuming method of hacking passwords called “Brute force” or “Exhaustive Key Search” whereby a hacker (using a specialised application) will throw anywhere from Hundreds to Millions of semi-randomised passwords at a login until one allows access to the targeted system.
In truth you may not even know if your password has been compromised. There is always the possibility that someone might discover and be using your password to access information they should not have access to in an ongoing manner. The best way to protect yourself against all of the above is to change your password every 3 months and by adhering to basic password protection standards (which are outlined at bottom of article).
There is also an advantage in using a different password for every system you interact with. If your password is discovered or hacked, it can only be used for that one system. This minimises the risk of information being compromised or stolen and helps to prevent other malicious activities from happening by creating additional obstacles for unauthorised persons.
Some useful tips to create and protect your password(s):
-Try using a passphrase. A passphrase is a series of words that are used as a password. Generally with 4 or more words chosen at random, the strength of the passphrase is stronger than an average user generated password. Avoid well known quotes or sayings. The following link demonstrates (in comic form) how much more effective a passphrase can be over a regular password. https://xkcd.com/936/
-Change your password often. We recommend every 3 months. For Windows this can be done by pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL on the keyboard and clicking ‘change password’. For Mac click on the apple at top left then click ‘preferences’ – ‘users and groups’ and in that window ‘change password’.
-Don’t give your password to anyone. If you believe or even suspect anyone knows your password, change it immediately.
-When coming up with a password, try to avoid using familiar names of people may know or anything of obvious significance for you.
-Use a different password for every system you interact with. This reduces the risk should a password become compromised.
-Avoid writing your password down where possible. If it does need to be written down, ensure it can be locked away safely and that only you can view this.
-Lock your screen when you are away from your computer. This can be done quickly in Windows by pressing the Windows Key and tapping L on the keyboard or CTRL + ALT + DEL and selecting ‘lock