We spend so much of our time online.  We socialise, do our banking, shop and learn in a cyber space. This means that so much of our personal information lives on the internet, especially now during the National Lockdown. Unfortunately, this increased online activity has also sparked a rise in cybercrimes. While we enjoy the convenience of living online, we also need to work at becoming more cyber savvy and protecting ourselves against cybercrime and identity theft.

If you’re still using your mother’s name or birthday as an online account password, that’s your first mistake. It’s dangerous to create passwords based on birthdates, your cats name, your initials, etc. –scammers will use your personal details against you, so these kinds of passwords make it easy for them to gain access to your most sensitive information.

The more complicated your password is, the less likely you are to become a victim of cybercrime.

Here are 7 tips for creating strong passwords

  1. Don’t create obvious passwords — never use birthdates and the names of friends or families as passwords. Come up with a unique password that does not include any personal information.

  2. Make it complicated – make your password long, with a mix of more than 15 characters, if possible. The more you mix lower case and upper case letters, numbers, and symbols, the stronger your password will be.

  3. Use multi-factor authentication – this is an added layer of protection and includes an OTP code that is sent to your phone or email address, or biometrics like your fingerprint, eye scan, etc.

  4. Use a password manager – there is software available online that will help you to auto-generate hacker-proof passwords. A password manager will also store your passwords in an encrypted form and allow you to access them across different devices. Many of them are free to use.

  5. Never text or email your password — don’t share your passwords with anyone. Saving your passwords on your device or even writing it on paper in a diary, increases the risk of it being discovered by someone else.

  6. Don’t reuse your passwords – your information can be easily compromised if you use the same combination of email addresses and passwords across your online platforms. This means that if you get hacked on one account, scammers will try the same combination to hack your other online accounts too. Use unique passwords for everything.

  7. Regularly change your password – try to change your password once every 6 to 12 months.

Always be aware and cautious. Cyber criminals know all the tricks and often find ways to work around cyber security loopholes. In the event that you believe your information has been compromised, change your internet banking, social media and online account details and advise your bank immediately.

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