How to improve online password security

There are easy ways to improve online password security, which remains a troublesome aspect of the online experience for many people

Sunday, 8 November, 2020

The process of choosing online passwords can be incredibly frustrating.

Think of a word. Now capitalise one of the letters. Now add two non-sequential numbers. Now add a special symbol. It’s hidden behind asterisks. Can you retype it correctly?

Multiply this by the number of bookmarks in an average web browser’s Favourites list, and it’s easy to understand why many people reuse the same passwords over and over again.

Unfortunately, if one of the online accounts using a shared password is hacked or compromised, criminals have a shortcut to access other accounts in your name.

If those other accounts store financial data or passport/driving licence/NI numbers, identity theft could quite literally be on the cards.

So what can you do to improve online password security?

Easy steps to improve online password security

Traditionalists favour writing your passwords down on paper. This is completely hackerproof, and only a determined burglar would find a list in a drawer or notebook.

Having to manually look up passwords is inconvenient, but it’s nothing compared to the protracted horrors of identity fraud.

An alphabetical list is easy to refer to, but never store it on your computer – especially not if it’s titled Password list.txt.

If your passwords tend to be variations on a theme, you can add abbreviations to the bookmarks in your preferred web browser.

For instance, if your Argos account uses the password CitroenBX1, suffix your Argos bookmark in Safari with CBX1.

Abbreviations provide an instant aide memoire, and also help to track password changes. If CitroenBX1 is replaced with CitroenBX2, it takes seconds to update the bookmark.

You could always trust your web browser to remember all your passwords..

For instance, Chrome offers to generate complex alphanumeric passwords and remember them on any Chrome browser you’re logged into.

That’s fine day-to-day, but forms and password reset menus don’t always support auto-form filling. You’ll also be prevented from logging in via any other web browser, or while logged out of Chrome.

A more advanced take on this involves online password managers. Here, you go online through your chosen provider’s dashboard, before accessing password protected websites.

The provider will generate and manage complex passwords, with registered websites presented in a user-friendly tile format through its web interface or app.

Providing you can remember your login credentials for the password manager, it’ll save and autocomplete account logins on your behalf.

Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!