Why do I need a strong password?
To stop unauthorised or even criminal access. You use passwords to manage your bank accounts, do online shopping, pay bills and more. Each one is at risk because of the financial gain to hackers.
Even non-financial accounts are targets. The risk here is data and identity theft. Hackers gain valuable information about you especially if they crack your social media accounts. That information can then be sold. In the worst case, they can steal your identity for criminal ends.
Even your devices aren't safe. The theft of your mobile phone is bad enough. But if your information or stored passwords are also stolen, you have a problem.
How do I make my password stronger?
Nowadays, hackers use computer programs to sift through masses of passwords or random combinations of characters. Consequently, what looks complicated to a human may be easy for a computer program to understand.
Having said that, some basic principles apply. Here are the do's and don'ts.
- Make your passwords at least more than 8 characters long, the longer they are, the harder they are to guess.
- Use 4 or more random real words (not a phrase though), this will make a password both easier to remember and harder for a computer program to crack.
- Use a combination of characters, upper and lower case, numbers and special characters, this will help make it harder for others to guess your passwords.
- Use personal details like dates of birth, nicknames, your mother’s maiden name, schools you attended or your pet's name. Not all hacking is done by computers. Humans will also try to guess, especially if they're looking at your social media feeds.
- Use common words or phrases like a movie title, bible verses or well-known sayings. In fact don't use recognisable words at all.
- Have a weak password for services you don’t think are important. One day, you might use your credit card on it, or use it to authorise something else.
- Type passwords into unfamiliar sites. These sites may be safe, but examine the site first. Ask yourself - do they really need my password?
- Use a common password for all of your online accounts that require you to login.
Good to know
When you set up a new password many sites will give an indication of the strength of your new chosen password. If it shows as weak, try again for a stronger password that you will remember.
Should I use different passwords for different accounts?
Absolutely. If you have the same password for multiple accounts, when one is hacked, all the others are vulnerable too.
The problem is remembering all of them. If you create a list, we don’t recommend that you store it on your computer or mobile device but if you do, make sure you've password protected the list. If you print it out, keep it away from prying eyes.
Should I change my passwords regularly?
It's very advisable, even though it sounds like a chore. A secure password manager could make things easier.
What is 2-step verification?
A randomly generated code is sent to you via text or email when you enter a password. You then respond with that code. It's a great failsafe, and more organisations are using it. You can learn more about 2-step verification here.
Visit Telstra’s pages for help to reset or retrieve your Telstra ID password or for help to reset your Telstra Mail password.